ECE Funding Handbook

Welcome to the Early Childhood Funding Handbook. This Funding Handbook is issued under section 311(5) of the Education Act 1989. The funding paid to licensed services is paid subject to the terms and conditions set out under this Handbook and must be complied with. The terms used in this Handbook are based in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

This Handbook is designed to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all you need to know about early childhood funding, including:

  • the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Funding Subsidy
  • 20 Hours Early Childhood Education (ECE)
  • Equity Funding
  • the Annual Top-Up for Isolated Services

Note: The information in the Funding Handbook does not apply to certificated playgroups. These services should contact their Ministry regional office for further information.

Downloading the ECE Funding Handbook

If you want a printed copy of this handbook, refer to the list of downloads in the contents section where you will find downloadable PDF versions of each chapter.

ECE Funding Handbook downloads

Licensing Criteria Cover

4-1 Funding eligibility

H symbol.  E symbol.  K symbol.  R symbol.  Books.

  • Introduction
    • This section outlines the eligibility conditions for:

      • services eligible to provide 20 Hours ECE
      • children eligible to receive 20 Hours ECE.

      All services offering 20 Hours ECE and all children receiving 20 Hours ECE must meet the eligibility conditions at all times.

  • Eligible services
    • Early childhood education services are eligible to offer 20 Hours ECE if they:

      • are licensed and
      • are open continuously for at least one session of 2.5 hours per week and
      • meet all 20 Hours ECE funding rules.
  • Services offering 20 Hours ECE
    • Services offering 20 Hours ECE must offer 20 Hours ECE to all eligible children.

      Services must not offer 20 Hours ECE only:

      • to some eligible children and not to other eligible children
      • on particular days of the week
      • for particular hours of operation.

      Note: The number of hours of 20 Hours ECE that a service can offer each child will depend on the service’s hours of operation, the space available at the service and the child’s hours of enrolment.

  • Eligible children
    • 20 Hours ECE funding can only be claimed for children who fill a child-place and are three, four or five years of age.

      Funding cannot be claimed for:

      • children enrolled in school
      • conditionally enrolled children who do not attend the service
      • casual bookings made for children who do not attend the service.
  • When to begin claiming
    • A child’s eligibility for 20 Hours ECE begins on their third birthday.

      Services may begin claiming 20 Hours ECE funding for a child on their third birthday.

  • Childcare Subsidy and 20 Hours ECE
    • Work and Income’s rules state that the Childcare Subsidy must not be claimed for 20 Hours ECE hours.

      The Childcare Subsidy can be claimed for hours of attendance not covered by 20 Hours ECE. For example, for a child receiving 20 Hours ECE and attending for more than six hours per day or more than 20 hours per week.

      The Childcare Subsidy is administered through Work and Income, Ministry of Social Development. Further information on the Childcare Subsidy can be found at the Working for Families website or call 0800 774 004.