New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated Te Putahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa (NZK)
is the umbrella organisation representing twenty nine regional kindergarten associations nation-wide.
Regional kindergarten associations
NZK member associations are community based, not-for-profit organisations. They are responsible for over 430 kindergartens, employing some 1450 qualified and registered teachers and over 600 support staff. NZK kindergartens provide quality early childhood education for around 30,000 children and support for their families and whanau. 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 64 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 age two. Kindergarten is 20% percent of ECE teacher-led services (ie: predominantly education and care services and kindergarten) and caters for 24.5 percent of children enrolled in a teacher-led service. After nga kohanga reo, kindergarten has the highest percentage (20 percent) of Maori children attending an ECE service and the highest percentage of Pasifika children attending alongside education and care services (8 percent).
Most kindergartens have shifted from the traditional sessional model to offer longer sessions each day, with a number operating school days to meet community needs. 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 two offer a mobile kindergarten service.
All kindergartens offer ‘20 hours free’ early childhood education to three and four year old children. 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 group size, 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 three year cycle, the same as schools, and reports on each review. Association and kindergarten reviews are on ERO’s website.