ECE Funding Handbook
Welcome to the Early Childhood Funding Handbook. This Funding Handbook is issued under section 548(5) of the Education and Training Act 2020(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’ 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.
3-B-4 Home-based ECE services
Licensed home-based early childhood education (ECE) services provide education and care for up to four children under the age of six in either a caregiver/educator’s home, the child’s own home or a home nominated by the child’s parent.
This section explains:
- funding rates for home-based ECE services
- the difference between standard and quality funding rates
- when to change the service’s funding rate.
There are two funding rates for home-based ECE services.
Standard rate – this is the funding rate applicable for licensed home-based ECE services. These services must meet the requirements of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link).
Quality rate – a higher funding rate is available to services that meet requirements additional to those specified in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link).
For more information on the Regulations see: www.legislation.govt.nz(external link)
Funding claim exceptions
Funding must not be claimed for:
- an educator’s own children
- children who are present in the home but not enrolled in the home-based service or
- children enrolled at school.
If an enrolled child is absent from a home-based service and the educator, by contractual agreement, is not paid for absent children, the service provider cannot claim funding for that child for that day.
If, however, the caregiver/educator, by contractual agreement, is paid for absent children, the service provider can claim funding for an absent child and the absence rules will apply.
See Section 6-4 for more information on the absence rules.
For funding purposes, an educator’s ‘own’ children includes children living with the educator in the educator’s home.
‘Own’ children does not include children who are placed with the educator as part of a Department of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) care arrangement, where the Chief Executive Officer of CYF is their legal guardian, and where CYF have referred the children and/or educator to a home-based service provider.2
Family members as educators
A home-based education and care service can claim funding for a child where the educator is a member of that child’s family and is living with the child in the child’s home only if all of the following requirements are met:
- the educator is part of a licensed home-based service, and
- the home is available for use by children who are not part of the educator’s family, and
- at least one child who is not a member of the educator’s family attends the home.
A home-based service can only claim funding for the child who is a family member for the hours a child who is not a family member attends the home.
For example: If a child who is not a family member attends the home for education and care for 15 hours per week, then the home-based service may claim 15 hours per week for each child who is a part of the educator’s family. Other children who are not part of the educator’s family may attend at different times in order to claim up to a maximum of 30 hours per week per child providing that the maximum number of children in home is not exceeded.
Note: In exceptional circumstances, in isolated communities, (3) may be waived by the Ministry regional office.
Definition of family members
A family member is any member of the family other than the parent or caregiver of the child. Please refer to the section Funding Claim Exceptions for more information.
Home-based education and care declaration
Services are required to have a signed declaration for each child to indicate whether the educator who will be providing education and care for the child is a member of that child’s family.
This declaration is part of the enrolment agreement example and can be found in Appendix 2.
Coordinator requirements: all services
Each home-based ECE service must have its own named coordinator or coordinators.
All coordinators must be ECE qualified certificated teachers.
Expiring quality rate requirements: qualification
Until January 2021, to be eligible for quality funding rates, home-based ECE services must meet the requirements of one of the following options:
Option 1 Option 2 Service size Maximum of 60 children Maximum of 80 children Coordinator requirements Coordinators must meet the
Quality rate requirements: coordinators
Coordinators must meet the
Quality rate requirements: coordinators
Educator Requirements All educators in the service have completed one of the following:
- at least 5 credits at a minimum of a Level 4 ECE qualification listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications
- a completed Level 3 or higher ECE qualification listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications
All educators in the service have completed one of the following:
- at least 15 credits at a minimum of a Level 4 ECE qualification listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications
- a completed Level 3 or higher ECE qualification listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications.
Note: Educator requirements In addition to the educator requirements for Option 1, educators can be New Zealand Qualified primary school teachers. In addition to the educator requirements for Option 2, educators can be New Zealand Qualified primary school teachers.
Note: The Ministry will only accept qualifications (listed in the table above) for home-based ECE quality funding if these are listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications.
A full or part ECE qualification gained prior to 1 July 2011 will continue to be recognised for quality funding purposes until the end of the educator’s contractual agreement with the home-based service.
New quality rate requirements: required qualifications
From January 2021, the qualification requirements for educators on a quality funded licence are changing. A percentage of educators in a quality funded licence must hold a ‘required qualification’.
Required qualifications are:
• A ‘grand-parented’ Level 3 ECE qualification. (This means a Level 3 qualification completed prior to 1 January 2022.)
• A Level 4 or higher ECE qualification
• A primary teaching qualification
• Te Ara Tuarua (the Level 5 kōhanga reo qualification) or higher (Tohu Whakapakari)
Qualifications must be listed on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), or otherwise recognised by the Ministry of Education as meeting the requirements for home-based education. A list of accepted qualifications is available on Education.govt.nz.
Services wishing to rely on educator qualifications that are not captured by this list should contact ECE.Funding@education.govt.nz for an assessment of the qualification. The list is updated as additional qualifications are considered.
International qualifications that have been assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority as comparable to recognised New Zealand qualifications will be accepted.
Previous grand-parenting provisions in place for educators working on a quality funded licence with the same provider since 1 July 2011 apply until 1 January 2022. After this point, grand-parented educators will be considered 'unqualified' unless they have upgraded to a recognised qualification.
New quality rate requirements: calculating the percentage qualification requirements
From January 2021:
- 30% of educators in a quality funded licence must hold a required qualification.
- Up to 20% can either be in induction (first 6 months on the quality licence) or enrolled training (up to a further 2 years).
- The remaining educators on the licence must hold at least 5 credits towards a required qualification at Level 4 or above.
The percentages are counted on a basic headcount of active educators in a licence. This means each educator counts once – regardless of the hours or days they work, or the number of children they care for. Educators on holiday, sick, or waiting for children to enrol can be counted up to certain limits (see the definition of ‘Active Educator’ in this chapter).
Where calculations result in a fraction, then the number of required qualified educators is rounded up and the number of allowed unqualified educators is rounded down.
For example, if a service has 13 educators then 30% is 3.9 – so they would need 4 qualified educators to meet the requirement; 20% is 2.6, so the service could have no more than 2 unqualified educators. In a service with 87 educators, the 30% is 26.1 so they would need 27 qualified educators, 20% is 17.4, so the service could have no more than 17 unqualified.
Percentage requirements are viewed weekly – at the end of the 7-day period (Mon-Sun), or part-thereof if the funding period begins or ends mid-week.
Educators who enter or exit the licence part way through the week will be counted in the same way as educators who have been active for the entire week. An educator who gains a qualification during the week will be considered qualified for that week. A qualification can be counted from the date the educator has received official notification that they have met the course requirements.
Educators providing backup care to children on a different licence will only be counted on their ‘home’ licence.
New quality rate requirements: Meaning of 'active educators'
The percentage qualification requirements are based on a count of active educators in a licence.
An educator is considered ‘active’ in a home-based licence if they are providing regular early childhood education and care to children enrolled on that licence.
An educator may still be considered ‘active’ if they do not provide education and care for a short period of time; for example, if they are sick or on holiday, or due to an emergency event like flooding. In these situations, there must be written evidence of the reason for the break, including the expected return date, on the weekly staff record.
After a continuous break of 3 weeks, educators can no longer be counted as ‘active’ for the purposes of the percentage qualification requirements.
Educators on a current licence, who have children leave and are waiting for new children to enrol with them, may also be considered ‘active’ for a period of up to 3 weeks from the date children leave.
Inactive educators can be reclassified as ‘active’ from the scheduled start date of new children enrolled on the licence to begin receiving education and care from the educator.
For the purposes of assessing a new probationary licence application with a request to begin at the quality funding rate, all educators who are listed as intending to work for the service will be considered ‘active’. Once the probationary licence is granted, educators who do not yet have children enrolled with them must be moved to ‘inactive’ status after 3 weeks.
New quality rate requirements: Discretionary situations for percentage qualification requirements
During this first stage of the transition period, a quality-funded service can access, without requesting Ministry approval, 5 ‘discretionary situations’ (ie, 5 weeks) in a funding period where percentage qualification requirements have not been met. These must be clearly identified on the weekly records.
After this, the service must apply to move back to the standard funding rate (including in situations where the 5 weeks are not continuous) and must remain there for at least one month before they can re-apply to move back to quality.
New quality rate requirements: Additional record keeping for quality funded services
To show they are meeting the percentage qualification requirements, services must keep the following records and make them available to the Ministry on request. These are in addition to the record keeping requirements for standard funded services, and the record keeping relating to the quality rate coordinator requirements in Chapter 11.
Evidence of educator qualifications:
Certified copies of qualifications are required. These can be certified by:
- The service's ECE professional leader, (ie, the coordinator)
- Ministry of Education staff
- The authority that originally issued the document
- A Justice of the Peace
- A solicitor
- A notary public
- A registrar.
For teaching qualifications where the specialisation is not identified on the certificate itself (that is, it does not state an early childhood or primary specialty), academic transcripts or similar to show the course content must be kept as evidence that the qualification meets the requirements for home-based education.
During the transition period, transcripts to show completed credits must be kept, if educators on quality-funded licences are being counted as having ‘5 or more credits towards a required qualification’.
For educators in study, a record of enrolment in a required qualification must be kept by the service provider. This must clearly show the date the programme commenced.
Evidence of name change or use of an alternative name must be retained, where qualifications are in an alternative name (eg, maiden name).
Evidence of meeting percentage qualification requirements:
Services must keep a Master Staff Record that shows:
- all educators along with their highest relevant qualification and the date this was achieved
- entry and exit dates for all educators
- enrolment date for educators still in study
Services must keep a Weekly Staff Record that shows the educators in the licence and their categorisation as either:
Full = holds a required qualification
Partial = holds at least 5 credits of an ECE qualification at Level 4 or above
Unqualified - in training = has not yet achieved any credits, but is enrolled in a programme of study that will lead to a required qualification
Unqualified - induction = has worked on the quality licence for less than 6 months and is not enrolled in a programme of study that will lead to a required qualification
N/A = has left service
Where there has been a change in categorisation from the previous week, such as an educator achieving a qualification, the reason should be indicated on the weekly record. If an educator has been unavailable for an entire week, the reason for this should be noted on the record.
The weekly record should clearly show whether the service is meeting the percentage qualification requirements, or (for quality funded services) claiming the week as a discretionary situation.
Weekly records must be verified by a representative of the service provider.
Educator timesheets (attendance records) that are signed and dated by the educator.
Upcoming changes to quality rate requirements: percentage qualification requirements
The percentage qualification requirements for the quality funding rate will change each year until 1 January 2025 when there will only be one funding rate for home-based education and care.
The table below outlines the scheduled changes.
Date requirement is effective Minimum percentage of educators with a required qualification Maximum percentage of educators able to be in training or induction^ Educators with at least 5 credits towards a required qualification at Level 4 or above 1 January 2021 30% 20% All remaining educators (0-70%) 1 January 2022 50% 20% All remaining educators (0-50%) 1 January 2023 70% 20% All remaining educators (0-30%) 1 January 2024 80% 20% This category no longer applies
^ Educators who do not yet have credits towards a required qualification.
Educators who join a quality funded licence without a completed qualification can only remain in induction for a maximum of 6 months, or enrolled in training up to a maximum of 2 years.
Quality rate requirements: coordinators
Coordinators of home-based ECE services receiving quality rate funding:
- must be locally based (i.e. available, in person, within normal commuter distances and times for that location) and
- must be on duty for the times specified in the table below, including over the lunch period.
Coordinators must not provide cover for more than one service at a time.
Services operating for more than six hours per day must have a coordinator who is... Services operating for six hours or less per day must have a coordinator who is...
- on duty between 8:30am- 4:30pm Monday to Friday and
- on-call to supervise home-based care before 8:30am, after 4:30pm and on weekends when education and care is provided by the service during these hours.
- on duty for the hours that children attend the service.
For funding purposes, 'on duty' means that coordinators are:
- mainly focused on, and involved in, supervising quality environments for educators and children in their service
- able to instantly respond to educators and parents in their service ‘person-to-person’ (i.e. in person or by phone).
‘On duty’ does not include times when the coordinator cannot respond instantly to educators and parents in person or by phone.
‘On call’ means the coordinator can respond instantly to educators and parents in person or by phone.
When a coordinator of a service funded at the quality rate is unable to be on duty, another coordinator must be on duty during the absence.
The relief coordinator must also meet the coordinator requirements.
The Ministry will fund up to five discretionary situations at the quality funding rate, per funding period, when a coordinator that meets all of the quality rate coordinator requirements is not available.
The regulations require home-based services to have a coordinator available to support educators for all hours children are attending. Discretionary situations cannot be used to avoid this obligation.
Examples where discretionary situations may apply is when a relief coordinator is supervising across more than one network (as long as they are not responsible for more than 50 children at any one time), or is not able to meet the full 8.30-4.30 on duty requirements.
The standard funding rate will apply from the date of the sixth absence.
Services may apply to return to quality level funding after one month, using the EC11 Form.
When an educator is not available (for example, due to illness), funding cannot be claimed if no care is provided. If there is a replacement educator, funding can be claimed only for the educator who provided alternative care. Funding cannot be claimed:
- for the educator who was not available
- if the parent/guardian chooses not to place their child in the care of the alternative caregiver/educator.
When to change funding rates
Use the following table to find out when and how to change a home-based ECE service’s funding rate:
If the service provider... and .. then... using ... is funded at the standard rate the service can meet the requirements of the quality rate you may apply to change to the quality funding rate the EC11 Form. is funded at the quality rate the service can no longer meet the quality rate requirements you must apply to return to the standard funding rate the EC11 Form. is funded at the quality rate the service has used 5 discretionary situations in a funding period to cover coordinator requirements and has a 6th breach you must apply to return to the standard funding rate the EC11 Form. is funded at the quality rate the service has used 5 discretionary situations in a funding period to cover percentage qualification requirements and has a 6th breach you must apply to return to the standard funding rate the EC11 Form. is funded at the quality rate there has been a change in coordinator, but the service continues to meet one of the quality rate options you must inform the Ministry of Education regional office of the change the EC11/A Form.
Note: Funding rate changes are effective from the date the EC11 Form, with evidence of the educators' qualifications attached, is received by the Ministry.
Christmas coverage: options for all services
There are three service delivery options for home-based ECE services during the Christmas period.
The options are identified in the table below.
Option Description 1 Service closes over the Christmas period. 2 Service continues to operate as normally organised over the Christmas period. 3 Local services can be ‘reconstituted’ to make up a single service for up to two weeks if:
- all parents, educators, and coordinators associated with the affected services are given two weeks notice of the change taking place
- the requirements of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 are still met by the service
- the total number of children in the reconstituted service does not exceed the maximum service size of 80
- trained and named coordinators are on duty for all hours children are receiving education and care
- all parents and educators that will be associated with the reconstituted service are provided with accurate contact information for the rostered coordinators at least two weeks before the service starts operating
- clear records are kept that include:
- the names of rostered coordinators
- the actual times and dates each coordinator worked
- names of educators and the children for whom they provided education and care
- the actual dates and times that each child was cared for over the period that the service was reconstituted.
All home-based ECE services must keep records for audit purposes and in a place where they can be easily accessed by the coordinator.
The relevant records must be provided at the site of the audit when an audit is taking place.
Services not able to supply records to the Ministry’s Resourcing Auditors in support of funding at the quality rate will be returned to the standard funding rate.
For information regarding what records your service needs to keep see Chapter 11 of this Handbook.
More record keeping information
Use the following table if you would like further information about record keeping and financial reporting requirements:
If you would like... See Section Information on 20 Hours ECE 4 Record keeping requirements for 20 Hours ECE 4-4 An overview of the record keeping requirements for all services 11-1 Information on funding claim audits and record keeping audits 11-2 Information or instructions for financial reporting 12