Starting a home-based ECE service
This is a guide for service providers interested in establishing a licensed home-based education and care service.
Recruitment of staff and educators for your home-based education and care service
Home-based service providers need to recruit coordinators and educators that fully understand the responsibilities that are associated with providing education and care to children in (separate) homes.
The Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link) and the Early Childhood Funding rules allow for a licensed maximum number of 80 child places but many service providers choose to operate with fewer children attending. When deciding on the number of coordinators and educators required, service providers will take into account meeting regulatory requirements, workload and hours of coordinators to cover when children attend, their philosophical beliefs, perceptions of quality, and views about how quality home-based education and care can be ensured.
1. Prepare for recruitment and management of staff
Policies and procedures for human resource management are required as part of the licensing process. Check the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, regulation 47(external link), and the home-based criterion GMA 6 for what is required.
Home-based service providers are required to provide induction procedures for all new staff and professional development opportunities for all staff employed or contractors engaged in the service. Professional development can be provided in-house, through external providers, or by supporting staff to gain recognised qualifications (educators) or upgrade qualifications (coordinators).
2. Clarify the positions you need to fill and the responsibilities and tasks associated with each position
Write a job description for each position, for example educator, coordinator, administration staff, manager. Well written job descriptions that clearly explain what is required and expected of individuals assist the service provider to engage the right person for the job.
See the section on job descriptions for more information.
3. Write employment agreements or contracts for all staff
All employed staff must have written employment agreements. It can be either an individual agreement or a collective agreement.
The following websites have information about collective employment agreements:
Home-based educators who are self-employed contractors must comply with legislation required of a self-employed contractor. This includes liability for tax with Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and payment of Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) levies.
As self-employed contractors or independent contractors, home-based educators will have an agreement that takes the form of a contract between themselves and the service provider, or between themselves and the families. The contract will vary depending on the model under which the service is operating. Contracts need to clearly state the roles, responsibilities and obligations of the parents, educators and service/company involved. The contract should also state who pays the educator and how they are to be paid.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment(external link) provides information about the rules governing employment relationships in New Zealand under the Employment Relations Act 2000(external link). It covers the relationship from the start, through to how it is formalised in an employment agreement, to how it can end.
4. Advertise for personnel
Advertisements in the Education Gazette(external link) and local newspapers can be used to provide you with ideas on how to design your advertisements for coordinators and/or educators. Websites are also a useful way to promote your service, as is 'word of mouth' within your community.
The How to hire guide for employers(external link) by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information about good practice when recruiting and hiring employees.
5. Interview and select personnel
The positions of both coordinator and educator involve high levels of trust and responsibility. It is therefore essential for the welfare of the children attending the service that care is taken in the selection of high calibre personnel to fulfil these positions.
Under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014(external link), all home-based educators are defined as core-workers. As such they are subject to safety checking requirements that include:
- a standard safety check, and
- a workforce restriction.
- Safety checking is a multi-stage process that includes:
- verification of identity
- an interview
- information about work history
- referee information
- information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body
- a Police vet
- a risk assessment.
More information on these requirements can be found on the Child protection page.
Educators are a key resource in a home-based education and care service. You may look for the following in potential educators:
- Do they enjoy children?
- Do they have good relationship skills?
- Are they respectful of diversity?
- Do they interact with children in a positive manner? Are they ‘in tune’ with children?
- Do they have good communication skills?
- Are they reliable, honest and trustworthy?
- Are they a good role model?
- Do they have plenty of energy, sense of humour, positive attitude to learning, creative thinking?
- Does their home meet all standards of health and safety, as well as having the ability to provide for all legislative requirements?
- Are all members of their family comfortable with opening their house and privacy to other people?
- Do they hold a first aid certificate? Are they willing to gain this qualification?
The responsibilities and tasks identified in the job description can be used as a guide for assessing the capability of the potential coordinator/educator.
Service providers and educators are required, under section 56 of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), to ensure that children do not come into contact with people who have physically ill-treated or abused or committed a crime against children.
The Education and Training Act 2020 includes a requirement that all usually resident members 17 years of age or older in the home where the home-based service is being provided will be Police vetted. This applies where the children attending the service are being cared for in a home other than their own. The Act also requires that Police vetting is completed before any unsupervised provision of care and education commences.
It can take some weeks before the results of a Police vet are available and service providers would need to take this delay into consideration when arranging start dates for new staff.
Help with employment issues
The Employment NZ website(external link) 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(external link) is a good starting point for finding out about obligations and entitlements concerning tax.
The Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand website provides information about the process of teacher certification(external link).
The Human Rights Commission(external link) website provides information about equal opportunities, including a discrimination and complaints guide.
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.
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI)(external link) is a union that negotiates collective employment agreements on behalf of many early childhood teachers.
Home-based service providers are required to provide any staff employed, contractors or any other persons engaged in the service with suitable information and support to enable them to do their jobs. In the home-based context, a service provider will need to develop job/role descriptions for both coordinators and educators.
While the main focus of the roles of both coordinators and educators is the care and education of young children, there are differences in the responsibilities and tasks associated with these roles:
- Coordinators have the responsibility for overseeing the education, care, comfort, health and safety of the children attending the service and providing professional leadership and support to educators within the service.
- Educators have the responsibility for providing education, care and comfort directly to the children in his or her care, and attend to the health and safety of those children.
Job/role descriptions clearly identify the responsibilities and tasks related to a specific job/role. The nature of the employment/contractual relationship between the service provider and the educator may influence the nature of the job/role description. It is important that all parties clearly understand their own duties and their expectations of each other.
A staffing and appointments policy, and the process adhered to, should document the process for developing and changing a job/role description.
We suggest you do the following:
- Read the home-based licensing criteria and the section on writing policies 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 that documentation reflects this.
- Contact your local Ministry of Education office to have the ‘Licensing a new home-based service’ pack sent to you. This includes the EC/1Hm form to apply for your probationary licence.
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.
Send all documentation required for licensing (policies, procedures, processes and administration records) to your local Ministry office with your probationary licence application EC/1Hm. Check with your Ministry official about how much lead in time they will require for receiving these records. It is likely that they will need to be sent at least one month before you want to begin operating.
- After receiving your probationary licence application, your local Ministry office will contact you to make an appointment for your licensing visit. When satisfied that a licence application is fully complete and the service provider is fit and proper to hold a licence, a licence assessment visit to at least 2 homes (unless there is only one home in the service) to assess the home-based ECE service’s compliance with the 2008 regulatory framework must be carried out.