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Most early childhood services are included in the Education and Care Services National Law, and other services (often called ‘residual’ services) fit under South Australia-specific law. This is outlined in the Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011 (SA), which incorporates the National Law. Then there is another category of service that is not regulated under either the National Quality Framework or the National Law, which are called 'out-of-scope' services.

Services under National Law

Most long day-care, family day-care, out of school hours care services and preschools are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF). If the service you are planning to operate is covered by the NQF, you will find information about applying for approval and regulatory requirements on the ACECQA website.

Long day-care

Long day-care is a centre-based service (sometimes called a child-care centre) that provides education and care for children aged from birth to six (and may also provide education and care to school-age children out of school hours).


Preschools provide an early childhood education program to children in the year before they commence schooling. This is delivered by an approved early childhood teacher, often on a sessional basis in a dedicated service. In SA, this is often called kindergarten.


Meaning out of school hours care, this service provides care for primary-school-aged children (typically five to 12 years) before and after school. It can also operate during school holidays (vacation care) and on student-free days. In SA, OSHC services are usually provided from primary schools. Services may also be located in child-care centres, gymnasiums or community facilities. OSHC services are often provided by school governing councils or boards or not-for-profit organisations. However, many are provided by companies.

Family day care

Family day care is a service that delivers education and care to children through two or more educators from an educator’s home or other approved venue.

Services under SA law ('residual' services)

Services that are not covered by the NQF may be regulated under SA law. These services include in-home care, rural and mobile services, occasional care and sole educators providing family day care.

Find out more about operating a residual service, including approvals. 

In-home care

In-home care is a service where children are cared for in their own homes in the absence of their parents (e.g. a babysitting or nanny service). This also includes a service that introduces parents to a person who will care for the children in the parents’ home.

Occasional care

Occasional care is a service that provides care for four or more children in a place other than a child’s home on an occasional basis (not all-day care) without their parent or guardian on site. These services are often attached to preschools.

Rural and mobile care

Rural care is a service caring for seven children or fewer in a rural community. Mobile care is a service providing care to children younger than school age at multiple locations that transports its equipment and materials to those locations.

​Family day care (sole educator)

Family day care (sole educator) is a service (not included in the National Law) delivered by one educator who cares for children in the educator’s home.

Out-of-scope services

Out-of-scope services are not regulated under either the National Quality Framework or the National Law.

These include:

  • playgroups
  • kindergyms
  • playcentres
  • classes primarily offering dance, sport, music, language or religious instruction.