Early Learning Funding Update – May 2019

Funding reminders for the Early Learning Sector for May 2019 including refresh of the ECE Funding Handbook, clarification on the frequent absence rule and more.

Refreshing the ECE Funding Handbook

The ECE Funding Handbook is being refreshed to make it easier to use and find the information that you need.

We want to know your top five suggestions for chapters and topics that you think should be updated in the ECE Funding Handbook.

Feedback is due by Friday 14 June 2019 and can be sent to ece.funding@education.govt.nz.

We will keep you updated on the refresh through this Bulletin and on our website.

ECE Funding Handbook

Update on the minimum rate for attestation

In the April He Pānui Kōhungahunga we advised that we were reviewing the minimum rates that must be paid for attestation of certificated teachers’ salaries.

As of 1 April 2019, the minimum wage for employees aged 16 years or over is $17.70 an hour. When taken as an hourly rate, the Q1 salary level equates to $19.74 an hour. We want to assure service providers that paying the current attestation rates is not a breach of minimum wage requirements.

For teacher-led early learning services to access higher funding rates, ECE and primary qualified and certificated teachers must be paid at or above minimum salary levels. Services must attest that they are doing this, as per the requirements in The ECE Funding Handbook. These minimum salary levels are published on our website.

Attestation of certificated teachers’ salaries

9-6 Attestation of certificated teachers’ salaries - The ECE Funding Handbook

We are still finalising the implementation of the new rates, which are aligned with the minimums in the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement of Aotearoa New Zealand (ECECA). We regularly amend the published rates when new collective agreements are negotiated. We will update our webpage soon and will contact services directly to advise of the new rates and effective dates.

If you have any questions about the attestation rates please contact the ECE Operational Funding Team on ECE.Funding@education.govt.nz.

Financial reporting due 30 June 2019

All early learning services must submit a financial declaration form by 30 June 2019. If you operated for a full financial year in 2018, and received funding of more than $80,000 (including GST) from the Ministry of Education, then you must also submit audited financial statements. Please send these, along with a copy of the Declaration Form, to:

Resourcing Division
Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666
Wellington 6140.

Alternatively, email resourcing@education.govt.nz by 30 June 2019.

You can read more about financial reporting requirements on our website.

Financial Declaration Form for Early Learning Services [DOCX, 73 KB]

Financial declaration for Early Learning Services

Playgroup operational funding and special grants for January to June 2019

Applications for operational funding or special grants for the period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2019 must be submitted before the end of May so that they can be processed before the funding period closes on 30 June 2019.

Applications for playgroup operational funding should be submitted online through the Education Resourcing System (ERS). If you have been set up with access to the ERS you can log-in at https://ers.education.govt.nz/(external link) and complete your funding request.

If you have not yet been set up with access to ERS please contact your local Ministry office and ask to speak with a Playgroup Advisor for assistance.

Local Ministry offices

There are resources available to help you use ERS on the website. These include user guides, a learning module and FAQs to assist with submitting your application.

ERS resources – playgroup funding - Education Services website(external link)

Playgroup special grants are available to cover costs that cannot be met from other funding. The special grant application form (PG4) is available via the Playgroup Funding Handbook.

Playgroup Funding Handbook

If you have any questions about the special grant please contact your local Ministry office and ask to speak to a Playgroup Advisor.

Local Ministry offices

RS7 Return update

Submission dates

On 1 July 2019, the Ministry will pay the next instalment of early childhood education (ECE) funding to licensed early learning services that have submitted their RS7 Return by Monday 10 June. Please note that this information does not apply to playgroups.

Services that submit their RS7 Return after 10 June, but before 10 July, will receive funding on Monday 22 July 2019.

Emails acknowledging receipt of the RS7 Return are sent to services. If you do not receive an acknowledgement email within 2-3 working days of your submission, please check your Student Management System (SMS) or ELI reports and contact the Ministry.

Funding notices are posted to services on the payment date. The Ministry does not provide confirmation of payment amounts prior to this date.

SMS users

It is expected that most services will submit their RS7 Returns electronically via the ELI system.

Please ensure you have a user who is set up to submit RS7 Returns who will be available during the submission period of 1-10 June 2019. This will ensure that your RS7 Return is submitted on time for payment on 1 July 2019.

If you have changed your SMS, or undergone a change of ownership during the funding period, you may need to submit some or all data via a paper RS7 Return. For more information about the RS7 Return, please see the Questions and Answers page about funding on the ELI homepage or email ELI.queries@education.govt.nz.

Questions and Answers – Funding (The RS7 Return) – Education Services website(external link)

ELI homepage – Education Services website(external link)

Paper RS7 Return forms were sent to services not connected to ELI in early May 2019. Please contact the Ministry at ece.funding@education.govt.nz if you have not received this form.


Early learning services are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the data submitted. Please note that:

  • re-submissions are available to correct genuine errors or oversights that come to light at a later date
  • re-submissions for the February to May 2019 period should be made electronically 
  • re-submissions for July 2018 to January 2019 should be submitted on paper RS7 forms
  • submissions that relate to earlier than June 2018 will not be processed
  • re-submissions may be audited by the Ministry’s Monitoring Team to verify their accuracy.

Further information

The frequent absence rule

This is the first of a series of updates on funding-related topics that will be featured in He Pānui Kōhungahunga – the Early Learning Bulletin.

We understand that many licenced services have difficulty managing and recording absences and as a consequence, funding can be affected.

What is the frequent absence rule?

The frequent absence rule requires that a child’s attendance must match their enrolment agreement for at least 50% of each calendar month.

The frequent absence rule is used to identify absence patterns that suggest a change in the enrolment agreement may be needed.

Who can claim funding for absences?

We fund enrolled hours of permanently enrolled children, even if they are absent, up to a certain limit. This is set out in the Funding Handbook.

Casually enrolled children are funded on actual attendance. Funding cannot be claimed for casually enrolled children if they do not attend.

What is required to be recorded and monitored?

A service is required to record children’s attendance each calendar month and monitor whether they:

  1. were absent on the same enrolled day or days of the week, or
  2. attended fewer days of the week than enrolled, or
  3. attended fewer hours than enrolled on any day of the week.

In most cases, your Student Management System (SMS) will monitor and identify frequent absences for you. If you are having issues with your SMS, contact your provider and work with them to ensure it is meeting your requirements.

If you identify any child whose attendance is less than 50% of their enrolled hours or days, you will need to monitor their attendance over a 3 month period as set out below.

MonthCheckActionFunding claim
End of month 1 Identify all children who have not attended 50% or more of their enrolled hours or days Note that the attendance of these children must be monitored Funding for absences can be claimed for the absences in month 1
End of month 2 Check the absence pattern of the children identified from month 1 If the absence pattern has continued you must reconfirm that child’s enrolment agreement Funding for absences can be claimed for the absences in month 2
End of month 3 Check the absence pattern of children who had continuing absences in month 2 and month 1 If the absence pattern has continued, the enrolment agreement must be changed to match attendance Funding for absences can only be claimed for month 3 if the enrolment agreement was reconfirmed at the end of month 2
End of month 4     Funding for absences that meet the absence pattern cannot be claimed in month 4

Once a child’s attendance matches their enrolment for more than 50% of the month, they are no longer considered to be frequently absent. If their attendance subsequently drops below the 50% threshold, then this is counted as month 1 and the process outlined above will begin again.

Chapter 6-8 of the Funding Handbook contain useful examples for applying this rule.

Are there exemptions to the frequent absence rule?

Children with special needs or health problems may be exempt from the frequent absence rule. A child will qualify for an exemption from the absence rules if:

  • the child has been identified as having an ongoing special need, which is supported by evidence as set out in the Funding Handbook; or
  • the child has a short term illness or condition that is supported by an EC13 Form, which specifies the period of the exemption.

A service may apply for this exemption using the EC12 form (and EC13 if applicable). See chapter 7-7 of the Funding Handbook to learn more about absence rule exemptions.

More information

If you would like further clarification, you can contact either:

  • The ECE Operational Funding team - 0800 ECE ECE (323 323); or
  • Contact your local Education Advisors

Contact details for Ministry of Education offices

Further information for services about absence rules can be found in Chapter 6 of the ECE Funding Handbook on our website.

Chapter 6 - Recording Enrolment, Attendance and Absence
Chapter 6-7 The Frequent Absence Rule
Chapter 6-8 The Frequent Absence Rule - examples
Chapter 7-7 Absence Rule exemptions

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