20 hours ECE subsidy - your questions answered!

In this post we will answer all of your questions about how the 20 hours government subsidy works for ECE.

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Logan Whitelaw February 17, 2022

5 min read

20 hours ECE subsidy - your questions answered!

So what is the 20 Hour's ECE subsidy?

Recognising that Early Childhood Education (ECE) has significant benefits for children, in 2007 the government introduced a policy providing 20 hours a week free ECE for three and four year olds in teacher-led centres. These include a broad range of childcare centres, termed education and care centres, home-based childcare services supervised by a teacher, as well as kindergartens and Kōhanga Reo.

How does it work?

The government already subsidies all children who attend early learning services through payment directly to the services. This means that ECE is available for every child in Aoteareoa.

The 20 Hours ECE is a higher funding subsidy.

It means that if your child is 3, 4 or 5 years old and goes to an early learning service or kōhanga reo that offers 20 Hours ECE, the cost can be fully subsidised for up to 6 hours a day and up to 20 hours a week.

You can choose to use as many or as few hours of 20 Hours ECE as you want, up to 6 hours a day and 20 hours a week.

Your child's early learning service or kōhanga reo may, however, have a minimum number of hours or days of enrolment as part of their policy.

Does it apply to me?

If you have a 3, 4 or 5 year old child who is not enrolled at primary school, you can apply for 20 Hours ECE. This is regardless of your income, whether you or your child is a New Zealand resident or citizen, or any other reason.

If your child is 3, 4 or 5 years old and live in Aotearoa, you are eligible for 20 Hours ECE.

Not all ECE services offer 20 Hours ECE. The best way to check is to find a few services that interest you on Kindello, book a visit, and use the Kindello chat function to ask the service directly (or any other questions you may have).

If your child is 3, 4 or 5, you can apply for 20 Hours ECE when you enroll your child at the early learning service or kōhanga reo - or you can do it just before your child turns 3 if they are already enrolled.

Fill in the enrolment forms at the early learning service or kōhanga reo. The agreement must include an "attestation", where you write and sign for the days and hours you are claiming as 20 Hours ECE. The 20 Hours ECE subsidy cannot be claimed until you have completed the attestation.

You can choose which hours you want to claim for 20 Hours ECE - it can be for any hours that your child is enrolled.

The subsidy is for only 20 hours per week and no more than 6 hours in any one day.

In New Zealand, children must attend school from the age of six. So, this 20 Hours ECE subsidy will finish as soon as your child is six or as soon as they start school - whichever one happens first.

The subsidy is paid directly to the early learning service or kōhanga reo. You don't have to apply separately to the Ministry of Education and the money never comes directly to you.

What about 0-2 year olds?

The subsidy only applies to children aged 3, 4 and 5 years old. There are other subsidies that you may be able to access for 0-2 year olds and these are covered further below.

What type of services can my child attend?

  • Education and Care service
  • Kōhanga Reo
  • Kindergarten
  • Home-based

If you have an educator looking after your child at home (theirs or yours), you can still apply for 20 Hours ECE. To do this, the educator must be part of a licensed home-based early learning service. The Ministry of Education pays the early learning service, not the individual educator.

If your child goes to more than one early learning service or kōhanga reo, you can split the hours between them so long as it's not more than 6 hours a day and 20 hours a week in total.

If your child's early learning service or kōhanga reo closes for the school holidays, you can use the 20 Hours ECE at another early learning service or kōhanga reo.

Are there any other fees?

Services can charge enrolment fees but shouldn't charge you for setting up 20 Hours ECE. If your child is attending for greater than 6 hours per day and/or greater than 20 hours per week - the service can charge for that additional time.

A service can also ask you to pay optional charges, and they can ask for a donation. It's up to you whether you pay these. Optional charges must be for the actual costs of providing extra items or services. These optional charges may be for providing a service, resource or experiences that would not be available without this fee.

Are there any other subsidies that I might be eligible for?

The Childcare Subsidy is for parents whose income is below a certain level. It exists to help you with the costs of ECE.

If you are receiving the Childcare Subsidy, you may also be able to receive 20 Hours ECE. The Childcare Subsidy cannot be used for the same 20 hours that you claim through the 20 Hours EEC subsidy, but if your child was attending ECE for 30 hours per week - the Childcare subsidy could be used for those additional 10 hours.

The Childcare Subsidy is looked after by Ti Hiranga Tangata (Work and Income.) To find out more about the Childcare Subsidy, click here

Thanks to The Ministry of Education for this 20 Hours ECE information. If you require further information, click here

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