This paper provides an overview of the participation of a large, nationally representative sample of Australian infants and 4-5-year-old children in early childhood education and care settings, based on data from the first wave of The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). The LSAC sample includes 10,000 children approximately equally divided between two cohorts--one of infants ranging from 3 to 19 months of age, and one of 4-5 year old children. The first wave of data was collected in 2004 by direct interview in the home with the child's primary carer. In this paper we will examine similarities and differences between the states and territories and between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas in the participation of children in early childhood education and care settings. We will comment on aspects of the cost of these services to families, parent satisfaction with the services their infants and children receive, and also on family demographic factors associated with the use of different types of early childhood education and care. This initial survey of the data provides a framework for understanding family and policy related factors that influence Australian children’s participation in early education and care services. In particular, the study provides an Australian context for understanding issues related to the current interest in providing universal access to preschool programs for children in the years before entry into school.