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New Zealand offers a wide variety of options when it comes to childcare centres. Each centre has its own way of working with children and their parents. Some centres may be based around certain beliefs or methods about education, for example, Rudolf Steiner, Montessori or Reggio Emilia. Centres may also focus on and promote a particular language, culture or religion. In common with each other, they all operate from specified premises and are licensed in accordance with the Education Act 1989 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.
Centres may offer all day education and care, or sessional care with part days. Casual centres, such as those found in shopping malls and gyms, provide childcare only for a short duration.
There are two kinds of childcare centres: teacher led and parent led.
Teacher led centres are run by teachers who are responsible for the education and care of your child. At least half of the centre’s teaching staff must be registered teachers who hold a Diploma in Teaching (ECE) or similar qualification. Other staff in the centre may have different qualifications or experience.They may be privately owned, owned and operated by a community group, or operated within an organisation for employees with young children.
Every licensed childcare centre is regularly reviewed by the Education Review Office which produces reports. These are free online at www.ero.govt.nz/Early-Childhood-School-Reports/Early-Childhood-Reports.
Private preschools are operated by private owners. These centres usually charge fees, although access to the 20 Hours Early Childhood Education government subsidy for children between 3-5 years, as well as WINZ childcare subsidies (including OSCAR) may be available.
Depending on the centre, they may accept children from birth to school age, or children of specific ages
Kindergartens are run by a kindergarten association. Each kindergarten is run by a committee made up of parents and people from the community. This committee reports to their local kindergarten association. Kindergartens usually ask for a parent to donation or fee. Most kindergartens offer services to children aged between two and five years.
Parent led centres are run by parents, whānau and caregivers and meet different Ministry of Education requirements in order to receive funding from the Ministry.
Playcentres are run by parents, whānau and caregivers who meet together to support their children’s early learning. Playcentres offer learning through play for children from birth to school age. Most centres are licensed by the Ministry of Education.When you enrol your child at playcentre you become a member. As a member you are expected to be involved in the running of the centre and take part in the daily programme. Each centre is linked to a regional association, which belongs to the National New Zealand Playcentre Federation. The associations provide parent education programmes of which you will be encouraged to take part. Playcentres usually charge fees or request donations. These fees or donations are generally lower than in teacher led services.
Te Kōhanga Reo centres are licensed by the Ministry of Education and seek to build young children’s and parents’ knowledge of te reo Māori (language) and tikanga (culture). Parents and whānau are responsible for the management and operation of their Kōhanga Reo as well as being closely involved in the children’s learning and development.
Te Kōhunga Reo National Trust is the umbrella organisation for all Kōhunga Reo. The trust’s role as the kaitiaki (guardian) of the Kōhunga Reo kaupapa is to ensure the quality and revitalisation of the Māori language. It does this by providing support and advice to Kōhunga Reo and advocating on their behalf.
With such a variety of options, choosing appropriate childcare for your child can seem overwhelming. As a parent or caregiver, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is safe and happy in a childcare environment that is fun, educational and nurturing. When it comes to choosing the best childcare for your child you need to go with the service that feels right for you, your child and your family.