If your child is eligible for 20 Hours ECE then you can receive that through PAUA.

As our Educators set their own rates, some have optional charges while others don’t. These will be discussed by parents, Educators and Visiting Teachers when children are enrolled, or turn three years old.

Further 20 Hours ECE information below is taken from the Ministry of Education website:

About 20 Hours ECE

The purpose of 20 Hours ECE is to reduce cost barriers so more children can benefit from participation in ECE (early childhood education).

20 Hours ECE is a higher rate of funding based on the full average cost of providing ECE to the regulated standard.

Under 20 Hours ECE, the government fully funds ECE for up to six hours a day and 20 hours per week for eligible children.

While it is not compulsory to offer 20 Hours ECE, all licensed ECE services and kōhanga reo can offer 20 Hours ECE.

Eligibility for 20 Hours ECE

All three, four and five-year-old children enrolled at an ECE service or kōhanga reo that offers 20 Hours ECE are eligible. This is regardless of family income, immigration status or any other reason.

Eligibility starts when a child turns three and ends when they start attending school. As children must be enrolled in school by their sixth birthday, the last day that can be claimed as 20 Hours ECE is the day before a child’s sixth birthday.

Parents need to have signed the 20 Hours ECE attestation on their child’s enrolment form before it can be claimed. 20 Hours ECE can only be claimed from the day a parent has completed and signed the attestation, it cannot be claimed retrospectively.

Parents must be able to choose how they allocate 20 Hours ECE for their child, up to the maximum of six hours per day and 20 hours per week.

Children enrolled at more than one ECE service or kōhanga reo

As parents can choose how they use 20 Hours ECE for their child, they can split the hours between two or more ECE services or kōhanga reo.

Parents attest on the enrolment forms to their child receiving no more than six hours per day, with a total of no more than 20 hours of 20 Hours ECE per week.

Parents can split 20 Hours ECE into amounts that are less than an hour. In one day, for example, a child may receive 2.5 hours at one service and 3.5 hours at another.

Fees and 20 Hours ECE

Fees cannot be charged for hours claimed as 20 Hours ECE.

Fees also cannot be charged:

  • for a public holiday when a child was usually enrolled on that day and 20 Hours ECE would normally have been claimed
  • for administering 20 Hours ECE.

These costs are already taken into account in the 20 Hours ECE funding rates.

You cannot charge an extra fee for an enrolled child who is moving to 20 Hours ECE. Fees can be charged for additional hours of enrolment outside of 20 Hours ECE.

Usual enrolment fees or waiting list fees can be charged for children who will be using 20 Hours ECE at your ECE service or kōhanga reo. These fees must apply to all children, not just those receiving 20 Hours ECE. You must also ensure that these fees do not prevent children from accessing 20 Hours ECE.

Parents can be asked to pay optional charges for hours claimed as 20 Hours ECE. Donations may also be requested. See the ‘Optional Charges’ and ‘Donations’ sections below.

The ECE service or kōhanga reo providing 20 Hours ECE is responsible for ensuring parents do not pay a fee for hours covered by 20 Hours ECE, either to the service provider or the Educator (in the case of a home based service).

Parents who pay the wages of a home based Educator

Parents cannot be charged a fee for hours that are claimed as 20 Hours ECE. This applies whether they are paying the service provider or the Educator. If this happens, parents must be fully reimbursed.

Optional charges

While no compulsory fees can be charged for 20 Hours ECE, some ECE services and kōhanga reo may want to offer, and parents may wish to access, aspects of education and care that are over and above regulatory standards. Optional charges enable this.

An optional charge is a request for a payment that parents may choose whether or not to pay for a specific one-off or ongoing purpose that:

  • is for the care and education of the child, and
  • is above what is required by the regulations, and
  • can be separated out and measured.

Optional charges can only be requested for:

  • aspects of provision that are not required by regulation
  • additional staff beyond the minimum regulated adult/child ratios
  • items that parents may either provide for their children or pay the ECE service or kōhanga reo to provide.

Optional charges should reflect the real and actual costs of the additional service, item or activity. ECE services and kōhanga reo must ensure that the service, item or activity offered is over and above what is required by regulation.

For example, services, items or activities over the regulated requirements may include:

  • specific teaching resources such as a dance or music teacher
  • excursions and entrance fees (see also ‘Optional charges for excursions’ below)
  • transport
  • sunscreen lotion
  • clothing items such as sunhats
  • food.

Parents must have a choice about whether they want to pay for the additional service, item or activity covered by the optional charge. They must be informed in writing that agreeing to the optional charge is not compulsory, and they must not be penalised if they choose not to pay an optional charge.

Optional charges cannot be a condition of initial or continued enrolment, or requested for:

  • aspects of provision that are required by regulation
  • general contributions towards the cost of high quality education and care provided by the service or due to the service being well regarded
  • the employment of registered teachers in a centre if funded below the 80%+ rate.

Recording a parent’s agreement to pay optional charges

You must record a parent’s agreement to pay an optional charge on the Enrolment Agreement Form. This must be signed and dated by the parent.

The optional charges section of the form must:

  • list the specific services, items or activities, and their costs, that are covered by the optional charge
  • advise parents that payment of optional charges is voluntary and there is no penalty for non-payment
  • advise that if parents agree to pay an optional charge payment can be enforced or the additional services, items or activities covered by the optional charge may be withdrawn
  • indicate how long the agreement to pay the optional charge will last
  • indicate how the parent can change their agreement to pay the optional charge.

If parents don’t agree to pay an optional charge

Optional charges are not compulsory. If a parent chooses not to pay an optional charge, the only action that can be taken is to withhold the additional services, items or activities covered by the optional charge. By choosing not to pay an optional charge, parents are agreeing not to have access to that service, item or activity.

Parents who choose not to pay an optional charge must receive at least the standard of ECE required by regulation for their child.

Once a parent agrees to pay an optional charge, and their agreement is recorded on the enrolment agreement form, then payment can be enforced.

Giving parents a chance to change their minds about paying an optional charge

The agreement to pay optional charges must include how long the agreement will last, and what the rules are about making changes to the agreement.

Reasonable opportunities must be provided for parents to review their decisions regarding optional charges. What is reasonable will differ, but in most cases parents should have at least one opportunity to change their minds about paying optional charges.

Either party may initiate a change to the agreement, but both parties must agree on the changes. Any change to the agreement on optional charges is a change to the enrolment agreement.

If parents stop paying optional charges they had agreed to pay

If a parent has agreed to pay an optional charge and has stopped paying it, then payment can be enforced as for any other fee, or the additional services, items or activities covered by the optional charge can be withdrawn.

Optional charges and the Ministry of Education

ECE services and kōhanga reo can set their own optional charges. It is good practice to talk to parents and check their willingness to pay.

The Ministry of Education would only become involved if a parent is being charged fees for 20 Hours ECE, an optional charge does not meet the criteria, or if parents are compelled to pay optional charges they have not agreed to in writing.

Optional charges for excursions

The licensing criteria define two types of excursions – regular and special.

Regular excursions are outings that parents agree to at the time of their child’s enrolment. Special excursions are outings that parents agree to prior to the excursion or outing taking place.

In general, regular excursions are part of an ongoing planned and consistent routine of education and care and should not incur an optional charge unless there is a direct cost associated with the activity itself, such as an entry fee.

A request for a transport fee for a regular excursion could be considered if travel is required, but should not be requested if the activity is within a reasonable walking
distance.

If a parent with a child in home based ECE has requested that the child be taken to a specific activity (such as dance lessons) on a regular basis, then an optional charge
could be requested for both the activity (if not already paid for by the parent) and the transport.

Special excursions are not part of the planned and consistent routine of education and care. Any direct costs associated with the activity and associated transport can be the subject of an optional charge.

In general:

  • An optional charge should only be requested for excursions if:
    • there is a direct cost associated with the excursion (e.g. an entry fee)
    • travel is required to get to the destination, specifically any distance greater than what could be considered reasonable by walking.
  • An optional charge for an excursion must be for the education and care of the child, and must be able to be separated out and measured.
  • Costs must be itemised so parents can see how the optional charge is to be spent. Requesting a nominal hourly rate for unspecified excursions and transport does not meet the intent of an optional charge.
  • Optional charges can be requested at any time after enrolment. Therefore if requested at the time of planning the excursion, the charge can reflect real and actual costs.

Optional charges for administering wages for home based Educators

Some home based services require parents to pay Educators directly. Some also offer parents the option of paying through a wage administration service.

A wage administration service can be separated out and measured. However, it is a service unrelated to the education and care of the child and sits outside the regulatory framework. Therefore an optional charge cannot be requested for wage administration.

If a parent wishes to use (and pay for) a wage administration service it must be agreed to on the enrolment form separately from 20 Hours ECE.

Optional charges for home management

Some home based services offer nannies and au pairs. Based in the parents’ home, they may be asked to undertake duties around the home for the parents in addition to providing education and care for the children. This is referred to as home management.

Home based ECE is underpinned by the premise that the home environment will provide learning opportunities. Such opportunities should be an integral component of any home based programme.

20 Hours ECE funding is provided with the expectation that the child will receive education and care for all the hours they are enrolled in 20 Hours ECE. While home management is a service that can be separated out and measured, it is a service that is unrelated to the education and care of the child and sits outside the regulatory
framework. Given this, an optional charge cannot be requested for home management.

Any fee sought for clearly specified home management duties that are not education and care is a matter between parents, the nanny or au pair, and the service provider.

Home management duties should be detailed and agreed to in a separate part of the enrolment agreement form to 20 Hours ECE. It is the responsibility of the service to identify what home management duties the parent and the nanny or au pair have agreed will be undertaken and when these duties will be performed. These tasks should be itemised on the enrolment form. This provides transparency and clearly differentiates the provision of 20 Hours ECE from the tasks that will be undertaken as home management.

It is the responsibility of the service to manage how 20 Hours ECE and home management duties are delivered to ensure they are not undertaken simultaneously.

Optional charges for ‘payment top-ups’ for home based Educators

A payment top-up is used by some services to cover the difference between the portion of the subsidy a home based service passes on to the Educator and the Educator’s payment.

A payment top-up is not a service, item or activity over and above what is required by regulation for education and care. Optional charges cannot be requested for payment top-ups.

Optional charges for qualified home based Educators

Some home based Educators are qualified and registered ECE teachers. An optional charge can be requested for a qualified and registered ECE teacher as this can be separated out and measured, is for the education and care of the child, and exceeds regulatory standards for home-based ECE.

It is reasonable for parents who choose not to pay an optional charge for a qualified and registered Educator to be offered an alternative Educator. However, the parent cannot be penalised for choosing not to pay. This means the alternate care must be ‘like for like’ (e.g. the same days and hours). If a parent chooses not to pay the
optional charge, the service cannot refuse or terminate the child’s enrolment.

Deciding whether a proposed optional charge meets the criteria

An ECE service or kōhanga reo should consider the following factors when deciding whether a proposed optional charge meets the criteria.

The optional charge must be for a service, item or activity that is either:

  1. Over and above the regulated standard, or
    • for additional staff beyond the minimum regulated adult/child ratios, or
    • is for an item that parents may either provide for their own children or pay the ECE service or kōhanga reo to provide, and
  2. The service, item or activity is for the education and care of the child, and
  3. The service, item or activity can be separated out and measured.

When considering whether something is for the education and care of the child, the ECE service or kōhanga reo should consider whether it benefits the child and directly enhances the quality of education and care they receive. Education and care is defined by the components of the ECE regulations and criteria.

It is also important that a service can identify how the service, item or activity is over and above the regulated standard, and that it can be separated out from what is usually provided to meet regulations. It must be possible to measure it so that real and actual costs can be requested.

Donations

You can ask parents for a donation to support your ECE service or kōhanga reo whether or not their children access 20 Hours ECE.

Donations are voluntary contributions and payment cannot be enforced. When requesting donations, ECE services and kōhanga reo must ensure that donations are not described as fees, or by any other term that implies they are compulsory.

Other things to consider

Childcare subsidy

The Childcare Subsidy (CCS) is available through Work and Income, a service of the Ministry of Social Development. Parents and caregivers can choose between receiving CCS or 20 Hours ECE or, in some cases, a combination of both payments.

The Childcare Subsidy may not be claimed for the same hours as 20 Hours ECE. Further information on the Childcare Subsidy can be found at http://www.workingforfamilies.govt.nz/ or you can call Work and Income on 0800 559 009.