Increasing participation

Learn about some initiatives we fund to help more children participate in early learning.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • All Early Learning Services
  • Service Managers
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Early childhood education is not compulsory in New Zealand. However, children aged six and under benefit from participating in early learning settings, and get a head start on their learning. We are encouraging more young children to participate by funding the initiatives below.

Engaging Priority Families

The Engaging Priority Families (EPF) initiative is for families with children aged 3-4 years who do not currently regularly attend an early learning service.

EPF is run by community organisations who guide and enable families through ongoing in-home/group session to:

  • Be more involved in their children’s early learning
  • Choose an early learning service that is right for them
  • Support their children when they transition to school.

EPF is only available in some areas. Contact the relevant community organisation in your area:



Community organisation



The Hub and HIPPY Trust(external link)


Kaitaia, Awanui

Far North REAP(external link)


Tikipanga, Woodhill, Morningside, Vinetown, Raumanga

Ngātiwai Education(external link)



Māngere, Ōtahuhu, Manurewa, Ōtara, Papatoetoe, Puketapapa

Anglican Trust for Women and Children(external link)


Māngere, Ōtahuhu, Ōtara, Papatoetoe

Turuki Health Care(external link)


Māngere, Ōtahuhu, Manurewa, Maungakiekie, Tamaki

Teuila Consultancy(external link)


Henderson, Massey

Ako Pai(external link)


Henderson, Massey, Whau

Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust(external link)



Kids Count(external link)



Tairāwhiti REAP(external link)



He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association(external link)

Poipoia te Mokopuna

Poipoia te Mokopuna (PTM) is for Māori whānau with tamariki up to 36 months old who do not currently attend an early learning service.

PTM is run by local organisations and iwi partners with strong connections within their rohe. It provides free advice using kaupapa Māori to involve parents in their children’s early learning. PTM includes a mix of in-home and group sessions and is flexible to accommodate different family schedules.

For more information, contact the provider/iwi partner in your area:



Provider/iwi partner



Kaikohe, Whangarei


Ngāti Hine Health(external link)


Kaeo, Mangapa River, Matauri Bay, Kerikeri


Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa(external link)



Massey, Ranui, Wider Henderson


Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust(external link)


Māngere, Ōtara, Manukau, Wider South Auckland


Turuki Health Care(external link)




Family Start (Kirikiriroa Family Services Trust)



Te Kōhao Health(external link)

Bay of Plenty



Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Hauora(external link)


Tauranga, Moana

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi(external link)


Uawa, Tologa Bay

Hauiti Hauora(external link)

Hawke's Bay

Hastings, Napier, Waipukurau, Central Hawke's Bay

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga(external link)



Levin and Otaki

Raukawa Whānau Ora(external link)

Levin, Taitoko

Muaūpoko Tribal Authority(external link)


Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Wainuiomata


Nāku Ēnei Tamariki(external link)


Waimakariri, Selwyn, Christchurch


Te Puawaitanga ki Otautahi(external link)


Dunedin, Mosgiel, Port Chalmers, Otago Peninsula


Te Hou Ora Whānau Services(external link)


Targeted Assistance for Participation

Targeted Assistance for Participation (TAP) provides funds for the buildings of early learning services in parts of the country where participation rates are low, in order to increase (or in some cases retain) children’s attendance.

TAP has two funding options:

  • TAP 2: up to $12,000 per child place, or 50% of project costs (whichever is lowest), usually towards new buildings.
  • TAP 3: up to $100,000 per project, usually towards building extensions at an existing service.

(TAP 1 is no longer available.)

For more information, contact your local Ministry Office

ECE Demand Stimulation

The ECE Demand Stimulation initiative funds flexible projects which are responsive to a wide range of community needs. It aims to stimulate demand for early learning, and support families to participate.

ECE Demand Simulation funds projects which:

  • engages communities in ECE
  • identifies non-participating children
  • promotes the benefits of early learning
  • creates opportunities and pathways to ECE.

For more information, contact your local Ministry Office

Supported Playgroups

Playgroups are an early childhood education option that allows parents, caregivers and whānau to attend alongside their tamariki in a varied learning environment. Supported playgroups are a type of certificated playgroup with requirements for curriculum delivery, parent/caregiver/whānau engagement, and transitions to school. We provide funding for a coordinator to help each supported playgroup meet the requirements and to help with management and administration.

Supported playgroups target Māori and Pacific families, and families in low socio-economic geographical areas.

Supported playgroups aim to:

  • provide a flexible model which can be adapted to suit a variety of community needs (including rural and isolated communities)
  • offer support for parent/caregiver/whānau engagement with their children's learning
  • address some of the participation barriers for non-participating families
  • respond to sommunities' language and cultural requirements
  • broker relationships with other early learning services and schools
  • prmote the benefits of early learning, and educate whānau on the different types of learning options available
  • offer a low-cost early learning option for whānau.

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