ECE Funding Handbook

Welcome to the Early Childhood Funding Handbook. This Funding Handbook is issued under section 311(5) of the Education Act 1989. 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’ for all you need to know about early childhood funding, including:

  • the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Funding Subsidy
  • 20 Hours Early Childhood Education (ECE)
  • Equity Funding
  • the Annual Top-Up for Isolated Services

Note: The information in the Funding Handbook does not apply to certificated playgroups. These services should contact their Ministry regional office for further information.

Downloading the ECE Funding Handbook

If you want a printed 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

Licensing Criteria Cover

2-1 The link between licensing and funding

A symbol.  Books.

  • Licensing
    • There are legal requirements that must be met to operate any premises as an early childhood service.

      Licences are issued to early childhood education services under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

      Licences set the standards for curriculum, premises and facilities, health and safety, and governance and management of early childhood services.

  • Certificated Playgroups
    • Certificated Playgroup funding is not covered in this Handbook.

      Playgroups do not receive the same level of funding as licensed ECE services.

      • Certificates are issued to Playgroups under the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008.
      • Certificates set the standard for curriculum, ratio, premises and facilities, health and safety practices and administration.
      • Funding information and requirements for Playgroups can be found under Playgroup Funding on the Ministry’s early childhood education website.

      Contact your Ministry regional office for further information.

  • 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 or contact your Ministry regional office for further details.