The regulatory framework for ECE

The rules that govern ECE are divided into 3 tiers:

  • first tier – the Education and Training Act 2020
  • second tier – the regulations for ECE services and playgroups, which both came into force in 2008
  • third tier – the criteria, which are the standards that services must comply with.

You can see how these tiers work together in the diagram below.

Regulatory framework showing the three tiers.

This framework is also known as the 2008 regulatory framework.

Third tier of the framework – the criteria

The third tier describes the day-to-day standards that ECE services and kōhanga reo must meet. These criteria explain what’s required in order to meet the regulations. There are different criteria for the different kinds of services.

Informal fourth tier – guidance

To give services a bit more help, an informal fourth tier has been created. It's called 'guidance' and you can find it with the criteria on this website. Our guidance provides information, things to think about, samples of documents and links to further information to help services meet the criteria (third tier).

2008 criteria

You can download copies of the following 2008 criteria:

Licensing fees for new ECE services

When new ECE services are applying to be licensed for the first time, they must pay a fee of $2,817.50 (this includes GST).

For more information about licensing fees contact your regional Ministry of Education office.

Early Learning Regulatory Review

The Ministry of Education has begun a comprehensive review of the early learning regulatory system (the Review). The Review’s purpose is to ensure that the regulatory system is clear and fit for purpose to support high quality educational outcomes for our youngest learners.

Find out more about the Early Learning Regulatory Review.

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