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

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Completing the RS7 Return


OverviewIntroductionThe RS7 Early Childhood Funding Return (the RS7 Return) is the main funding return for early childhood education (ECE) services.

All ECE services (or the administrators of a service provider) must complete the RS7 Return in order to receive funding.

In this chapterThis chapter contains the following topics:

Service profile information (removed April 2015): 9-1
Calculating the ECE Funding Subsidy: 9-2
Calculating the 20 Hours ECE Funding: 9-3
Calculating the Staff Hour C…

Collection of Information

IntroductionIt is a condition of funding that licensed early childhood services provide information to the Ministry. The Ministry of Education collects and stores a range of information through the ELI system and via paper-based forms. This includes information on enrolled children, teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as some general information on licensed early childhood services.

Attendance and Enrolment Data

Collection of attendance and enrolment information as a condition of fundingIt is a condition of funding that every service provider of a licensed early childhood service must provide the information listed in this chapter to the Ministry of Education, at the frequency specified, through the ELI system or any alternative method the service provider is authorised by the Ministry to use, to enable the Secretary for Education or the Minister of Education to exercise their powers or carry out their…

Transitional school visits funding rule

Children under six years of age who are enrolled at an ECE service may attend school as part of a transitional school visit.

The service will be funded for the child’s permanently enrolled hours at the ECE service, as per the usual funding system.

ECE Census

ECE Census (also known as the ECE Return)The ECE Census collects information about the operations of an early childhood service during a particular week. This information contributes to a comprehensive information base on early childhood education (ECE) in New Zealand and is used by the Ministry to monitor and forecast ECE expenditure and design new policies.

All licensed early childhood services connected to the ELI system need to complete and submit the ECE Census. Funding may be withheld in…

Support for licensing

The Ministry can provide information to help groups set up early childhood education (ECE) services.

Steps for setting up services, useful website links, and other handy resources are available to all groups on the Ministry website. For information about the Early Learning Information System (ELI) or the electronic submission of RS7 returns, please visit Early Learning Information or contact your Ministry regional office for further details.

Funding may be withheld in part or in full

The Ministry may, subject to any conditions and for any period, determine that no funding is payable either in full or in part for any service(s) where:

the service has temporarily closed and for the period of that closure; or
the service’s licence has been suspended and for the period of that suspension; or
the service’s licence has been cancelled or revoked; or
the service provider has not met any of the conditions set out in the Early Childhood Education Funding Handbook or in any other docu…

Structure of the ATIS

The ATIS is a ‘two-tier’ entitlement system:

If your service will be topped up to...

$5,000-$10,000.99 in ECE Funding Subsidy, 20 Hours ECE funding and Equity Funding payments between 1 June and 31 May

$10,001-$19,999.99 in ECE Funding Subsidy, 20 Hours ECE funding and Equity Funding payments between 1 June and 31 May

Early Learning Information (ELI) System

IntroductionThe Ministry of Education’s Early Learning Information (ELI) system collects and stores information on enrolment, attendance and staffing from licensed early childhood services.

Licensed early childhood services, unless specifically exempt, must send complete and accurate information to the ELI system. This includes:

Children’s National Student Numbers (NSN)
Up-to-date child enrolment and attendance information
The ECE Census (also known as the ECE Return)
The electronic RS7 Return…


Notional Rolls are reviewed once each funding period for the first 12 months, and then at least once every 12 months after that.

Following a review, the notional roll may be adjusted, or the ECE service may be returned to normal funding if it no longer meets the criteria for a notional roll.

ECE services using a notional roll will need to submit their actual attendance data with their RS7 Returns (e.g. attendance data could be exported or printed from a Student Management System).

Record keeping requirements

If your service was given Ministry regional office written approval for an emergency closure confirmed by letter or email and you are submitting an electronic RS7 Return:

Keep the approval letter or email for your records.
Record the Emergency Closure in your system
Record all children as absent for the day of the emergency closure. Funding may be claimed for the hours that children have a permanent enrolment subject to the funding maximums of the ECE Subsidy and 20 Hours ECE.
Calculate the FCH…

Electronic Attendance Records Criteria

ECE Services may use electronic means of verification of attendance records to satisfy the requirements of this handbook.

If using electronic means to verify attendance records you must meet the criteria below. How the criteria are met is up to each individual service.

Security1. Authorised signatories are linked with only one electronic signature. The means of creating each individual electronic signature is linked only to its authorised signatory or any system administrators and to no other…


Sione currently attends Huia Playcentre from 8:00am to 11:00am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Huia Playcentre arranges for Sione to visit James Cook Primary School from 8:30am to 11:00am every Wednesday for one month before he begins attending James Cook Primary School.

Huia Playcentre marks their attendance register with ‘SV’ each Wednesday when Sione is on a school visit. Funding may be claimed for Sione’s enrolled hours as per the normal funding system.

If Sione is absent from Huia P…

Early Learning Information (ELI)

The Ministry of Education’s Early Learning Information (ELI) system collects and stores information on enrolment and attendance in early childhood education. Licensed early childhood services send information to the Ministry of Education through their Student Management System (SMS) or Ministry’s secure ELI Web application. Funding may be withheld in part or in full if a service does not submit a completed and accurate ECE Return by the due date.

Certificated teacher absences and discretionary hours

Services should maintain a list of certificated relievers who are available when certificated teachers are absent.

The Ministry will accept up to 80 discretionary hours per funding period (to maintain current rates of funding) when certificated relievers are not available, provided that the record keeping requirements described in this section are met.

Education and Care services may record the hours worked by relievers who are Other Teachers as Certificated Teacher Hours for the purposes of t…