Flexibility Practices and Patterns







Early Childhood Australia conducted research on flexible practices and patterns across the early childhood sector, funded in partnership through the Commonwealth Government’s Child Care Flexibility Fund. The purpose of the project was to identify innovative flexible practices being delivered by the early childhood sector, examine how flexible services operate and function and identify barriers restricting current operators being able to increase flexibility for families. The project will also assist the sector to learn from the implementation of flexible practices at other services.

What is flexibility in early childhood services?

Flexibility in early childhood education and care services refers to anything that meets the needs of families. This may involve a whole range of things including, but not limited to:

  •  non-standard hours
  •  flexible sessions and enrollment
  •  working in combination with other services
  •  flexible location or service delivery


Report cover

Early childhood flexibility practices and patterns report

This Early Childhood Flexibility Practices and Patterns Report highlights recommendations and future directions for early childhood education and care services and governments in providing flexible arrangements for their families and local communities. The contents of the Report are illustrated through case studies, as well as data from surveys of early childhood services. Click here to view or download the  The Early Childhood Flexibility Practices and Patterns Report.

Long day care flexibility survey report

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) conducted a sector wide survey of early childhood education and care  services in January and February 2014 to identify the range of flexible practices being implemented by early childhood services. Long day care services were also asked about the barriers to flexible practice and whether they would consider making their services more flexible for families in the future. ECA received 405 responses to the long day care survey, or around 6.4 per cent of all long day care services. The Long Day Care Flexibility Survey Report is available here.

Resources supporting flexible practice

As part of the project, ECA has produced a range of resources to help early childhood services to gain  a greater understanding of flexible practice and improve the flexibility of early childhood services for children and families. Early Childhood Australia hopes that these resources are informative and we would welcome your feedback.

Tip SheetsTip sheet logo - flexible sessions

The flexibility tip sheets are designed to help services when approaching different forms of flexible practice.

Case Studies

The case studies demonstrate some of the innovative flexible practices that are occurring in early childhood services around Australia. They are designed to help services to reflect on their own practices and how they are meeting the needs of children and families in their own communities.
Case study logo

Focus on Flexible Sessions

ECA visited Dorothy Waide Early Learning Centre in Griffith NSW, to talk with Neville Dwyer about how the service has implemented flexible sessions for families.

Other resources

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the Child Care Flexibility Trials a project conducted by the Australian Government in 2013 and 2014. The evaluation measured the extent to which the goals and expected outcomes of the trials were achieved, and was based on interviews with and surveys of parents, service providers and other key stakeholders. This paper provides a summary of the key findings from this evaluation.

Read the report here.