Starting a centre-based ECE service

Click on the links below for information on starting a centre-based licensed early learning service.

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Roles and responsibilities in a centre-based ECE service

The Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 define three distinct positions of responsibility in a centre-based ECE service: service provider, contact person and person responsible.

A service provider is a body, agency, or person who or that operates the centre.

The service provider is the holder of the licence and is legally responsible for meeting regulatory requirements
An application for a licence made on behalf of a service provider must be made by a fit and proper person to…

Designing and building – step-by-step guide

We suggest you work through the following steps:

Develop indoor and outdoor plans in consultation with your architect, teachers, community and your local Ministry of Education office.
Read the early childhood service design guide section for design ideas for everything from bathrooms to sandpits.

Read the renovating an existing building or building a new service section for a checklist to help you consider a range of issues when renovating an existing building or choosing a site and building a…

Probationary Licence + Application Form

You need a licence to run a centre-based early learning service. Read about the application process below.

PlanningBefore you start, do some research. Look through our information to find out everything from what our requirements are to how you can design and build your service. Doing some research will help you make a plan and decide how to carry it out.

In particular, please note that From 1 February 2023, unless excluded, anyone intending to establish a new licensed early childhood service…

Furniture, fittings and equipment

You will need to consider what will be the appropriate learning and teaching equipment and resources for meeting the curriculum standards in the regulations, and for:

your philosophy
the range of children who will attend
your community
actively acknowledging the unique place of tangata whenua in the programme
meeting regulated standards.
Visit other ECE services and discuss with teachers the choices available for particular equipment.

Make a list of equipment you plan to get. Many suppliers ha…

Annual plan

An annual plan is an important part of the smooth operation of an ECE service.  An annual plan is required to meet the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 regulation 47 and licensing criterion GMA8.

Management group

If a management group has been elected, the members need to be people with an interest in the service, who will be able to attend meetings regularly, assist with decision making and help manage the service. The management group is formed at the annual general meeting and includes:

a representative from the teaching team who has the most responsibility for the day-to-day running of the service – usually the ‘person responsible’ (electing a teacher to the management group is not advisable because…

Managing your service

Managing is doing the day-to-day things at the service so your long-term plan is achieved. As an example, if you are buying some new books for the children, you are managing.

When you are managing, it is important to make sure you hear and respond to the views and concerns of the coordinator and the educators. It is important the management group does not take over or interfere with the educators’ responsibilities.

Every service is different. In some big services there can be separate governan…

Resource management and code compliance certificate

Resource management consentLicensing criterion PF3 requires the premises to conform to any relevant bylaws of the local authority and the Building Act 2004. Resource consent allows a person or group to operate a licensed centre on particular premises. The environmental effects of having an ECE service in the neighbourhood will be considered before resource consent is granted. Sometimes resource consent has to be publicly notified. Consents can be declined or have conditions attached (for example…

Administration records – list

Please note the following:

The title of each record below is a guide only. The required content could be set out under different titles, or grouped differently.
All content is required (unless otherwise stated).
The content that is only required by the Early Childhood Education Funding Handbook only applies if you claim government funding.
If in any doubt about requirements, check the actual wording in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, Licensing Criteria for Early Child…

What is an annual plan for?

An annual plan provides a method for tracking the progress of some of the key tasks your service needs to complete regularly, as well as specific 'one off' projects. For some projects you will need to develop much more detailed time lines identifying 'who, what, when'.

Bathrooms, nappy change and body wash facilities

Bathrooms – general
Bathrooms need not be institutional. Aim to create a home-like setting. Ideas include using:

warm colours
attractively framed mirrors above the sink(s)
framed children's art work displayed sparingly (without 'over doing' visual stimulation)
posters and signs (used thoughtfully).

Toilet doors
Licensing criterion PF22 and licensing criterion PF20

When designing your bathroom area, talk to your local territorial authority and regional health authority about req…

Download an example annual plan

The example plan has been designed for you to use and change to suit the needs of your service. Alternatively, you could make your own.

An annual plan allows you to easily tick items off as you go and check progress – for example, at monthly management meetings.  You can ensure that tasks are spread over the year and in the right order.

Remember this is not an exhaustive plan and the headings may or may not suit your service; it is designed to give you some ideas only.

Preparing or reviewing the statement of philosophy

The management group or governing board is responsible for writing a draft statement of philosophy. This should be circulated to as many stakeholders as possible to get their opinion. This can be done through a meeting or by doing a survey; whatever method is best for your stakeholders.

Their ideas and comments should be included in the final statement before it is circulated again. It may be necessary to go back to each of the groups to make sure that everyone is happy with the final statement…

Help with employment issues

The Employment NZ website has information to support human resource management. This includes templates for letters to appoint staff, fact sheets, employment agreement guides and help calculating parental leave for your employed staff. There is also an ‘Ask a question’ feature.

Inland Revenue is a good starting point for finding out about obligations and entitlements concerning tax.

The Education Council's website provides information about the process of teacher registration.

The Human…

Responsibilities of governing

What is governing?Governing is the responsibility for the long-term health and prosperity of the service. It includes:

designing and putting into words a vision of what your service will be like in the future
making sure your service will provide high quality early childhood education for children in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and beyond
long-term projects or issues rather than day-to-day matters.
A job description for governingWhen you govern, you need to be always asking yourself, “Is what I…

Sleep rooms, rest areas and sick (isolation) rooms

Licensing criteria PF29 to PF31 and licensing criteria PF32 and PF33 (for sessional services and all-day services)

Furniture and items intended for children to sleep on (such as cots, beds, stretchers, or mattresses) must be of a size that allows children using them to lie flat, and are of a design to ensure their safety.
If they are to be used for more than one child over time, they need to be securely covered with or made of a non-porous material (material that does not allow liquid to pass t…

Food provision

Under the Food Act 2014 (the Food Act) and Food Regulations 2015, if you provide food at your ECE centre or kōhanga reo, it must be safe and suitable. The Food Act applies to anyone who provides food as part of their business. It requires people to provide food that is safe and suitable to eat.

Depending on what type of food you provide, you may need to register and operate under a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) National Programme level 2. 

Working with a national programme is the way t…

Developing a schedule

Developing schedules is quite tricky and you may need to try lots of versions before you find one that suits your service. 

Use the example schedule as a guide and carry out the following steps:

Step one

Fill in the number of children (over 2 or under 2) that you have planned will be at the service every half hour (right hand column). Note that, at the start and end of the day, there are often fewer children attending. If this is the case, fewer adults may be needed at these times.
Work out h…

Job descriptions

Job descriptions are statements written to describe the:

position title
duties/key tasks
primary responsibilities, including intended outcomes of key tasks
qualifications and experience required for the position
personal professional qualities and skills
position relationships, such as to whom the person is responsible, and to whom they relate
a date that the job description was prepared – this is a good way to track when it needs updating
names and signatures of the key people involved in its…