2017 ECE Complaints data released

A new report released today by the Ministry of Education reflects the Ministry’s ongoing commitment to giving parents confidence in the early childhood education (ECE) sector, says Deputy Secretary Sector Enablement and Support Katrina Casey.

“Last year more than 200,000 children attended New Zealand’s 5,527 early learning services (including ngā kohanga reo and playgroups) and were taught by around 30,600 staff,” says Ms Casey.

“It’s important that parents and caregivers can have confidence that their children are learning in a safe, well-run early childhood service. An effective complaints and incidents process is part of this.

We started releasing information on the complaints we received about early childhood education (ECE) in 2014 to give parents and the sector confidence that we take all complaints seriously and act upon them.

Services are legally required to have processes in place so parents and whānau can complain or ask a question if they’re not happy with any aspect of their child’s education and care. That could be a concern or question about enrolment processes, ECE funding or something more serious.

Most complaints can be managed at the service level but parents, whānau and caregivers are encouraged to come to us if they are not satisfied with the response from a service or if the complaint is potentially serious.

The proportion of services we received complaints about in 2017 has remained largely the same since we started reporting on them, at around 5% of all services.

In 2017 we received 339 complaints about early learning services, a slight increase from the 331 complaints received in 2016.The complaints related to 286 early learning services. There were 5,527 services in 2017.

We investigated 297 of the 2017 complaints. A further 42 did not require investigation. These were either resolved at the source, referred to the service’s own complaints process, referred to another agency or withdrawn.

Of the complaints we investigated, 166 were upheld, meaning that standards had not been met or the investigation found something that the service was required to improve. 

While we investigated more complaints in 2017 than 2016, the number of upheld complaints remained largely the same. The 166 complaints upheld in 2017 involved 2.6% of all early learning services. In 2016 2.5% of all services had an upheld complaint.

We suspended the licences of six services in relation to 10 complaints and cancelled the licences of nine services in relation to 11 complaints.  We changed a further 31 services licences to provisional in response to 41 complaints.

For the 2016 data we provided more detail about the complaints received, what action had been taken and introduced information on incidents. This year we’re continuing that practice of increased transparency by including more information on the incidents and information on how many services the complaints and incidents relate to.

We received 137 reports of incidents from early learning services in 2017 - a mix of mandatory and voluntary notifications from services.

Every complaint we receive is treated seriously. We assess each complaint, and if a service falls short of the standards we impose conditions for improvement or shut the service down.

We continue to look at ways to improve our management of complaints and to use the insights from our investigations to improve our services.

Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our children."

Read the report

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback