Early Years Research reports 5% drop in childcare occupancy during Q1 2021

  • Australia’s first dedicated ECEC data and insights portal releases quarterly performance indicators for the ECEC sector.
  • Occupancy, Average Daily Rates and New Enrolment data assists childcare services in making informed decisions for future growth.

MELBOURNE, Australia – 12 MAY, 2021. Early Years Research, Australia’s first dedicated data and research portal for the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector, today announced the release of its Quarterly Performance Indicators Q1-2021 report. The research report addresses the lack of evidence-based planning in the early learning sector and provides actionable insights for services across the country.

Occupancy went down 5% Quarter-on-Quarter (QoQ) to 72% nationally in Q1-2021, with NSW recording the highest occupancy across Australia at 80%.

The EYR portal has a mission to help ECEC services succeed through data and research and releases regular reports for childcare practitioners. As childcare services battle new occupancy and revenue challenges in a post-COVID environment, having benchmark data will assist them in creating baselines and setting performance goals. 

The one-page, data-rich report released today uses aggregated and anonymised data from a sample size of 1,500 ECEC services across Australia to depict trends in key performance indicators for the latest quarter. It provides childcare operators with a holistic view of how centres performed across cities and states, so they can use the data to make informed decisions about service improvement.

“…what’s clear from the data is that childcare centres across Australia are still struggling to fill their empty spaces, despite increased demand from families this last quarter.”
– Mark Woodland, CEO of Education at Xplor

The report includes Occupancy Rates and Average Daily Rates (ADR), referring to crucial childcare growth and operations indicators. It uses data comparisons with the previous quarter to highlight both gaps and opportunities in the early learning sector, and presents new ECEC enrolments and capacity tracking data.

Q1 2021 highlights: 

  • Occupancy rates fell to 72% for Long Day Care (LDC) centres (down 5% since Q4-20), driving down revenue for childcare centres. Enrolments saw an increase of 22% across Australia. 
  • The largest drop in occupancy of 9% was recorded in SA, TAS, WA, ACT, followed by a 2% fall in Victoria.
  • The Average Daily Rate (ADR) was $113 nationally, up 5% since Q4-20. ADR rate for Q3-20 and Q4-20 was $108.
  • Melbourne had the highest ADR at $131 for Q1-21, up 13% QoQ, followed by Sydney at $124, up 2% QoQ.
  • The current national revenue potential was $5,000 per place per quarter. 
  • The average LDC enrolment duration was 18 months across Australia during Q1-21, with 22% new enrolments.
  • NSW recorded the highest percentage of new childcare enrolments at 25%. Brisbane, SA, TAS, WAS, and ACT saw the lowest new enrolments at just 19% and the highest percentage of children on a waitlist (3%).

Mark Woodland, CEO of Education at Xplor commented, “Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen childcare services adapt to new needs, new methods of educating and adopting technologies that help families stay connected to their children every step of the way. But what’s clear from the data is that childcare centres across Australia are still struggling to fill their empty spaces, despite increased demand from families this last quarter. 

If the Australian Government can follow through with their proposed education budget agenda, this will be welcome relief for families and childcare service providers. Every Australian family deserves quality childcare at an affordable price.”

One of the most valuable findings of the report is the significant gap in actual and potential revenue for the ECEC sector, calculated using the indicator called Revenue Per Available Place (RevPAP) as a product of ADR and occupancy. While operator health at the national level stayed the same, the report found that revenue potential for state capitals, Brisbane and Melbourne, went up by a considerable amount. 

To access the Quarterly Performance Indicators Q1-2021 report, click here


About EYR 

EYR.org is Australia’s first dedicated Early Years Research portal, with a mission to help services succeed through data and insights. This is an initiative by QikKids and Xplor, drawing insights from over 7,000 centres. 

The Early Years Research team is helping Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services achieve that goal, making it easier to gain insights and implement strategies off the back of its sector-wide studies spanning thousands of services. Since its introduction in 2018, the amount of data collected — and the insight gained — has been groundbreaking.

All benchmark reports released by EYR to date can be accessed on https://www.eyr.org/benchmark-centre/