New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated Te Pūtahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa (NZK)
is the umbrella organisation representing twenty five regional kindergarten associations nation-wide.
Regional kindergarten associations
NZK member associations are community based, not-for-profit organisations. They are responsible for over 445 kindergartens, employing some 1,900 qualified and registered teachers and over 600 support staff. NZK kindergartens provide quality early childhood education for around 25,000 children and support for their families and whānau. Associations are incorporated societies each with a governance board comprising members of the local kindergarten and/or wider communities. They are regionally based independent entities, and are managed by a general manager or executive officer. NZK member associations range in size from a one-kindergarten association to an association managing 85 kindergartens. A number of associations support stand-alone early childhood education services contracting administrative, personnel, property and professional services.
While kindergarten predominantly caters for children between the ages of three and five years, increasing numbers of kindergartens are taking children from a younger age. Kindergarten comprises 15 percent of all ECE services in New Zealand and caters for 17 percent of all children enrolled. Seventeen percent of Māori children and 19 percent of Pasifika children attending ECE attend kindergarten. Nearly one-third of all four year olds in ECE are enrolled in kindergarten.
Most kindergartens have shifted from the traditional sessional model to offer longer sessions each day, with the majority operating school days. Many offer families the choice for children to attend part or all of the longer session, staying over the lunch period. Some associations provide home-based services, operate full-day education and care centres, and one offers a mobile kindergarten service.
All kindergartens offer ‘20 hours free’ early childhood education from three years old to when children enter school. Sometimes, parents and caregivers may pay a donation, fee or a small optional charge to meet costs over and above those covered in the 20 hours. For some families, a Work and Income subsidy is available to support children attending an early childhood education programme.
Rules and regulations
All kindergartens are licensed by the Ministry of Education and must comply with the Early Childhood Education Regulations The regulations set minimum requirements such as for staff:child ratios, curriculum standards, and health and safety practices, which kindergartens must meet in order to maintain their license to operate. The Education Review Office
(ERO) is responsible for checking that associations and kindergartens have the policies and practices in place to ensure the regulations are being met. ERO reviews kindergartens on a regular cycle, the same as schools, and reports on each review. Kindergarten reviews are on ERO’s website. ERO publishes national reports on different topics including all aspects of curriculum which can also be found on their website.