ECE Funding Handbook

Welcome to the ECE Funding Handbook. This handbook is issued under section 548(5) of the Education and Training Act 2020.

Funding of certain services and certified playgroups – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

The funding paid to licensed services is paid subject to the terms and conditions set out under this handbook and must be complied with. The terms used in this handbook are based in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

This handbook is designed to be a 'one-stop-shop' of everything you need to know about early childhood funding, including:

  • the ECE Funding Subsidy
  • 20 Hours ECE funding
  • equity funding
  • the annual top-up for isolated services.

This information does not apply to certificated playgroups

The information in the Funding Handbook does not apply to certificated playgroups.

These services should contact their Ministry regional office for more information.

Local Ministry offices

Download the ECE Funding Handbook

If you would like to print a copy of this handbook, refer to the list of downloads in the contents section where you will find downloadable PDF versions of each chapter.

ECE Funding Handbook downloads

4-1 Funding eligibility

H symbol.  E symbol.  K symbol.  R symbol.  Books.

  • Introduction
    • This section outlines the eligibility conditions for:

      • services eligible to provide 20 Hours ECE
      • children eligible to receive 20 Hours ECE.

      All services offering 20 Hours ECE and all children receiving 20 Hours ECE must meet the eligibility conditions at all times.

  • Eligible services
    • Early childhood education services are eligible to offer 20 Hours ECE if they:

      • are licensed and
      • are open continuously for at least one session of 2.5 hours per week and
      • meet all 20 Hours ECE funding rules.
  • Services offering 20 Hours ECE
    • Services offering 20 Hours ECE must offer 20 Hours ECE to all eligible children.

      Services must not offer 20 Hours ECE only:

      • to some eligible children and not to other eligible children
      • on particular days of the week
      • for particular hours of operation.

      Note: The number of hours of 20 Hours ECE that a service can offer each child will depend on the service’s hours of operation, the space available at the service and the child’s hours of enrolment.

  • Eligible children
    • 20 Hours ECE funding can only be claimed for children who fill a child-place and are three, four or five years of age.

      Funding cannot be claimed for:

      • children enrolled in school
      • conditionally enrolled children who do not attend the service
      • casual bookings made for children who do not attend the service.
  • When to begin claiming
    • A child’s eligibility for 20 Hours ECE begins on their third birthday.

      Services may begin claiming 20 Hours ECE funding for a child on their third birthday.

  • When to stop claiming
    • A child’s eligibility for 20 Hours ECE ends on the day before their sixth birthday or their last day of attendance before they start school, whichever comes first.

  • Childcare Subsidy and 20 Hours ECE
    • The Ministry of Social Development, Work and Income provides a range of support for childcare costs, which include the Childcare Subsidy and Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment.

      Children receiving 20 Hours ECE cannot receive childcare assistance from Work and Income for the hours of 20 Hours ECE. The only exception is when home-based educator top up payments are applied for the hours of 20 Hours ECE. Families may be eligible for childcare assistance from Work and Income to help with the cost of home-based educator top up payments.

      More information on childcare assistance can be found on the Work and Income website or call 0800 559 009(external link).

      Working for Families(external link)