Increasing participation

Learn about some initiatives we fund to help more children participate in early learning.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • All early learning services
  • Service managers
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

Early childhood education is not compulsory in New Zealand. But children aged 6 and under benefit from participating in early learning settings, and get a head start on their learning. We are encouraging more young children to participate by funding the initiatives below.

Engaging Priority Families

The Engaging Priority Families (EPF) initiative is for families with children aged 34 years who do not currently regularly attend an early learning service.

EPF is run by community organisations who guide and enable families through ongoing in-home or group session to:

  • be more involved in their children’s early learning
  • choose an early learning service that is right for them
  • support their children when they transition to school.

For more information about the EPF programme, contact the provider and iwi partner in your area or your local Ministry Office. 

Local Ministry Offices



Ngāti Hine Health Trust(external link)

Far North District

Far North REAP(external link)


Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Manurewa, Ōtara-Papatoetoe, Papakura, Puketāpapa, Whau

Anglican Trust for Woman and Children(external link)

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Ōtara-Papatoetoe

Strive(external link)

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Manurewa, Papatoetoe

Turuki Health Care(external link)


Relative Limited(external link)

Henderson-Massey, Whau

Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust(external link)


Taulanga U(external link)

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Manurewa

Tui Fitz Development Limited


Waikato, South Waikato

Kirikiriroa Family Services Trust(external link)


Te Kohao Health(external link)

Bay of Plenty


Eastbay REAP(external link)


Te Pakarito Limited

Tauranga, Western Bay of Plenty

Ava Niu Pasifika(external link)

Hawke's Bay, Tairāwhiti


Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga(external link)

Tairāwhiti REAP(external link)


He Whānau Manaaki O Tararua Free Kindergarten Association(external link)


Porirua, Horowhenua

He Whānau Manaaki O Tararua Free Kindergarten Association(external link)

Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt

Nāku Ēnei Tamariki(external link)



Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi(external link)

Poipoia te Mokopuna

Poipoia te Mokopuna (PTM) is for Māori whānau with tamariki up to 36 months old who do not currently attend an early learning service.

PTM is run by local organisations and iwi partners with strong connections within their rohe. It provides free advice using kaupapa Māori to involve parents in their children’s early learning. PTM includes a mix of in-home and group sessions and is flexible to accommodate different family schedules.

For more information, contact the provider and iwi partner in your area:


Kaikohe, Whangarei

Ngāti Hine Health(external link)

Kaeo, Mangapa River, Matauri Bay, Kerikeri

Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa(external link)


Massey, Ranui, Wider Henderson

Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust(external link)

Māngere, Ōtara, Manukau, Wider South Auckland

Turuki Health Care(external link)


Family Start (Kirikiriroa Family Services Trust)

Te Kōhao Health(external link)

Bay of Plenty


Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Hauora(external link)

Tauranga, Moana

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi(external link)

Gisborne, Tairāwhiti

Uawa, Tologa Bay

Hauiti Hauora(external link)

Hawke's Bay

Hastings, Napier, Waipukurau, Central Hawke's Bay

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga(external link)


Levin, Taitoko

Muaūpoko Tribal Authority(external link)


Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Wainuiomata

Nāku Ēnei Tamariki(external link)


Waimakariri, Selwyn, Christchurch

Te Puawaitanga ki Otautahi(external link)


Dunedin, Mosgiel, Port Chalmers, Otago Peninsula

Te Hou Ora Whānau Services(external link)

Targeted Assistance for Participation

Targeted Assistance for Participation (TAP) provides funds for the buildings of early learning services in parts of the country where participation rates are low, in order to increase (or in some cases retain) children’s attendance.

TAP has 2 funding options:

  • TAP 2: up to $12,000 per child place, or 50% of project costs (whichever is lowest), usually towards new buildings.
  • TAP 3: up to $100,000 per project, usually towards building extensions at an existing service.

(TAP 1 is no longer available.)

For more information, contact your local Ministry Office.

Local Ministry offices

ECE Demand Stimulation

The ECE Demand Stimulation initiative funds flexible projects which are responsive to a wide range of community needs. It aims to stimulate demand for early learning and support families to participate.

ECE Demand Simulation funds projects which:

  • engages communities in ECE
  • identifies non-participating children
  • promotes the benefits of early learning
  • creates opportunities and pathways to ECE.

For more information, contact your local Ministry Office.

Local Ministry offices

Supported playgroups

Playgroups are an early childhood education option that allows parents, caregivers and whānau to attend alongside their tamariki in a varied learning environment. Supported playgroups are a type of certificated playgroup with requirements for curriculum delivery, parent engagement, and transitions to school. We provide funding for a coordinator to help each supported playgroup meet the requirements and to help with management and administration.

Supported playgroups target Māori and Pacific families and families in low socio-economic geographical areas.

Supported playgroups aim to:

  • provide a flexible model which can be adapted to suit a variety of community needs (including rural and isolated communities)
  • offer support for parent/caregiver/whānau engagement with their children's learning
  • address some of the participation barriers for non-participating families
  • respond to communities' language and cultural requirements
  • broker relationships with other early learning services and schools
  • promote the benefits of early learning, and educate whānau on the different types of learning options available
  • offer a low-cost early learning option for whānau.

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