Starting a home-based ECE service
This is a guide for service providers interested in establishing a licensed home-based education and care service.
Developing policies for home-based services
We suggest you do the following:
- Read the licensing criteria booklet that applies to your service type to identify which policies are required.
- Write drafts of documentation required for licensing and other policies, procedures and processes you think would be useful. If your service is part of an umbrella organisation it may require additional documentation or have examples you can adapt.
- Consider how you will ensure that your service operates in accordance with the regulations and licensing criteria, and have documentation to reflect this.
- Contact your local Ministry of Education office to have a New Home-based service Licensing pack, which includes the probationary licence application (EC/1Hm), sent to you. It is helpful to have the form at this stage as some of your documentation of policies, procedures and processes need to be submitted as part of the application. The other policies, procedure and processes will be looked at later, on site, when your service is visited by the Ministry of Education as part of the licensing process.
Why have policies?
Policies identify agreed processes and procedures to ensure:
- key legislative requirements are met;
- management, contracted and employed staff, and parents have a shared understanding of the home-based service’s agreed processes and procedures; and
- the home-based service delivery and professional practice is consistent, safe and appropriate.
What is required?
The Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link) apply to all licensed services. The regulations require services to formulate certain policies, processes and procedures. Read the regulations and the home-based licensing criteria to clarify what is actually required and from there determine what policies you will need. An ECE service's policies will reflect its individual philosophy, values and style of operation. ECE services also need to develop their own policies and procedures to meet other legislative requirements.
Are policies legally binding?
Policies are not legally binding. They reflect an individual ECE services agreed practice, and can be reviewed and changed by the service. Staff, parents and others in the service are usually asked to agree to follow the services policy (and any future changes to policy) when they are employed, or contracted, or when their child is enrolled.
In this way they become binding to those staff and parents, and the service could dismiss an employee, terminate a contract, or cancel an enrolment if a policy is not followed. A court of law could not do the same because it only deals with breaches of regulations or law.
Can we copy from other services?
Policies from other ECE services can give you good ideas to think about as you write your own. However, do remember that all services and communities have different structures, beliefs, values and expectations. It is important that your policies are considered and are relevant to your service. If you don’t like a policy you already have, discuss it and change it.
Your policies should work for you!
Wherever possible, develop policies before you need them and be prepared to introduce new policies and procedures when the need for this arises. Consultation with staff and parents will help to ensure your policies and procedures are robust and realistic for implementation on a daily basis.
Most policies include:
- a rationale (a reason for having the policy)
- objectives (what you hope to achieve through the policy)
- procedures that clearly describe the actual practices that will occur
- how the policy will be implemented
- when the policy should be implemented
- who is responsible for its implementation
- when the policy is planned to be reviewed.
If your policy is not working well, consult with staff, contractors and families and change it! The content of your policies belongs to your service.
A regular review process (see regulation 47(external link), criterion GMA3) where those involved in the service have the opportunity to discuss policy and suggest changes will ensure your policies and procedures are always relevant to your service.
To read upfront:
The Employment New Zealand website(external link) has information to support human resource management that service providers may find useful. 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.
The Education Council(external link) provides information about the process of teacher registration.
The Human Rights Commission(external link) provides information about equal opportunities, including a discrimination and complaints guide.
The New Zealand Educational Institute(external link) is a union that negotiates collective employment agreements on behalf of many early childhood teachers.
The New Zealand Home-Based Early Childhood Education Association(external link) provides information of current news and events relating to home-based education as well as tax, ACC and insurance obligations. Members have access to a tax calculator, newsletters and a discussion forum among other things.
Inland Revenue(external link) is a good starting point for finding out about obligations and entitlements concerning tax.
The Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand(external link) and the Early Childhood Council(external link) provide members with information and advice on industrial issues, including management handbooks and other resources. Although more specifically directed towards centre-based early childhood education and care services, home-based service providers may find them useful.
Settling and transition policy
Transitioning to, within and from early childhood education settings are significant processes for children and their families. To make these experiences positive and successful, it is important that policy and procedures are based on knowledge of children and current educational theory and practice. These resources and further reading may assist with development of the policy and practice.
Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa (1996)(external link) – early childhood education curriculum (especially strands one and 2).
Kei Tua o te Pae: assessment for learning – early childhood education exemplars.
Health and safety policy
The Ministry of Health's website has a resource called Ngā Kupu Oranga: Healthy Messages(external link). It is a health and safety resource for early childhood education services and is available to download.
Your local Health Protection Officer (HPO)(external link) will be able to give you useful information that compliments Ngā Kupu Oranga.
The Ministry of Civil Defence website has a resource called Early Childhood Education (ECE) Services Emergency Planning Guidance(external link).
The Worksafe website(external link) has a range of resources, including tools like self-assessment sheets for health and safety matters and forms you can use, through to information about managing hazards for small businesses.
Legislation can be accessed on the New Zealand Legislation website(external link).
Curriculum assessment and planning policy
Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, regulation 43(external link)
Licensing Criteria for Home-based Education and Care Services C1 – 13
Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa (1996) – early childhood education curriculum(external link)
Kei Tua o te Pae: Assessment for Learning – early childhood education exemplars
Child protection policy
Regulation 46(1)(a) of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link) requires that services take all reasonable steps to promote the good health and safety of children enrolled in the service. The Vulnerable Children Act 2014(external link) and the licensing criterion HS28 also require all home-based services to have a child protection policy.
Read more about these requirements and the Ministry’s accompanying guidance in the home-based licensing criteria and guidance.
Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 regulation 47(external link) and the Licensing Criteria for Home-based Education and Care Services, GMA1 to GMA3, set out the minimum standard of communication which should be communicated to parents and how they can access information about their child.
Positive guidance policy
The Providing Positive Guidance(external link) publication is also useful.
Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, regulation 47(external link) and the Licensing Criteria for Home-based Education and Care Services, criterion GMA1, require services to inform parents of the procedure to follow if they wish to complain about non-compliance with the regulations or criteria.
You can find information about the complaints process for parents and whānau on our Parents website(external link).
Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, regulation 47(external link)
Licensing Criteria for Home-based Education and Care Services, criterion GMA 2
Early Childhood Education Funding Handbook