Participant Information Statement

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), with a consortium of researchers, has been commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the Department) to evaluate the changes to child care arrangements introduced in July 2018. As part of this we are evaluating children’s inclusion in early learning and care services including an evaluation of the Inclusion Support Program (ISP). The Survey of Early Learning and Care Services will contribute to this evaluation, providing information on services’ experiences of delivering inclusive early childhood education and care. The evaluation will report on the outcomes and impacts of the changes, using a range of data, collected and analysed until at least 2021.

(Please click on the headings below to reveal further information.)

You have been invited to participate in the third Survey of Early Learning and Care Services survey. This survey is seeking responses from managers or directors of a representative sample of services across the country, to better understand services’ experiences of inclusion of children from different backgrounds in early childhood education and care.

Services were selected from the Department’s administrative records, and administrative data will also be linked to survey data by the evaluation team to minimise the number of questions we need to ask in the survey. The data will be used in analyses by the evaluation team in preparation of reports and other publications about the Inclusion Support Program. The first report from the broader evaluation of the Child Care Package has been published, and includes findings from the first wave of this survey. See https://aifs.gov.au/publications/child-care-package-evaluation-early-monitoring-report

You will be asked to complete a survey online. This survey will take about 20 minutes to complete and includes a range of questions about the backgrounds of children using this service, families’ experiences at the service, and also about the various policies and practices the service has in place to help address inclusion. Due to the nature of the survey, it is best completed by someone who is primarily located at this location, and familiar with day-to-day operations – most likely a manager or director. However, we will not require you to access your administrative data to complete the survey. Services that do not complete the survey online will be contacted by the Social Research Centre (SRC) to complete the survey via telephone.

Participation in the survey is voluntary. If you agree to participate in the survey you can withdraw from the project without comment or penalty at any point in the survey. If you do leave the survey part-way through, we will use the information you have entered up until that point, unless you contact SRC to ask for that information to be withdrawn. You can ask for your information to be withdrawn from the project at any time up until the close of the survey, on 10 December 2020. Your decision to participate or not participate will in no way impact upon your current or future relationship with AIFS or the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Sometimes people feel upset when they are involved in research. If you want to talk to someone you may wish to contact your Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) or alternatively call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (Free Call).

All responses are confidential. Only individuals named on the evaluation team will have access to the survey data. No information that could identify your service or you as an individual will be contained in the report to the Department, or other outputs from the project. You can read more about AIFS’ privacy policy at www.aifs.gov.au/privacy

The final data from the study will be stored securely at AIFS for the duration of the Child Care Evaluation, which is at least until December 2021 (but may be extended beyond this time), and then a further seven years after that. Only approved personnel may use the data and only for the purpose of the evaluation unless you provide permission to do otherwise.

Your contact information is stored securely and is removed from the survey dataset. Your survey responses are instead saved against a unique identifier.

AIFS is committed to researcher integrity and the ethical conduct of research projects. However, if you do have any concerns or complaints about the ethical conduct of the study you may contact the AIFS Ethics Committee secretariat on (03) 9214 7825 or ethicssecretariat@aifs.gov.au. The Ethics Committee secretariat is not connected with the research project and can facilitate a resolution to your concern in an impartial manner.

AIFS has invited the Social Research Centre to conduct the survey on its behalf and so if you would like more information about the survey, please contact them on selcs@srcentre.com.au or 1800 023 040. More information about the evaluation can be found on the AIFS website: https://aifs.gov.au/projects/child-care-package-evaluation. If you want to talk to someone about the evaluation, you can contact the AIFS research team on 1800 352 275 or aifs-childcare-eval@aifs.gov.au.