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

6-5 Three Week Rule for Continuous Absence

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  • Introduction
    • The Three Week Rule for Continuous Absence (Three Week Rule) limits the period of time that the Ministry will fund continuous absences, to three weeks.

      This section explains the Three Week Rule, and how to apply it.

  • Three Week Rule
    • Services may claim funding for all sessions/days a child was enrolled to attend, but was absent from, within a three week period. The three week period begins on the first day of absence.

      Services must not claim funding for absences that continue into the fourth week and beyond.

      Funding resumes when the child returns to the service.

      Services must not claim funding following notification from a parent/guardian that a child will not be returning to the service – even if the three week period has not ended. Funding claimed beyond this point will be recovered.

  • Rationale
    • The ECE Funding Subsidy is payable to services on the basis of child enrolments. This enables services to claim funding for children who are absent. Some children are absent for lengthy periods of time. On occasion, children who appear ‘absent’ will have left the service.

      The Ministry wishes to maintain a reasonable level of funding for children who will return to the service. A level of security in funding allows services to budget more effectively.

      Services should not be penalised if they are unaware that an absent child will not be returning to the service. However, the Ministry cannot fund absences indefinitely.

  • Special needs exemptions
    • Children with special needs or health problems may need to be absent for more than three weeks. Services can apply for an exemption to the Three Week Rule for these children.

      See Section 7-7 for details on how to apply for an exemption.

  • Examples
    • The examples on the next two pages illustrate how the Three Week Rule can be applied to children enrolled for one, three or five sessions per week.

      In all cases, funding can be claimed for all sessions the child was absent from within a three week period. The three week period begins on the first day of absence.

  • Key for examples
    • Use the key below to understand the shading and letters used in the examples:

      Grey box. Days the child was not enrolled to attend.
      Letter a in a white box. Days the child was enrolled to attend and was absent and funding can be claimed.
      White letter a in a black box. Days the child was enrolled to attend and was absent and funding cannot be claimed.
      Tick box. Days the child attended. 
  • Example 1
    • The example below illustrates how the Three Week Rule can be applied to a child enrolled for one session or day per week:

      3 week rule example 1.

  • Example 2
    • The example below illustrates how the Three Week Rule can be applied to a child enrolled for three sessions or days per week:

      3 week rule example 2

  • Example 3
    • The example below illustrates how the Three Week Rule can be applied to a child enrolled for five sessions or days per week:

      3 week rule example 3