Help paying for early childhood education
All 3, 4 and 5-year-olds can get free early childhood education for up to 6 hours a day, up to 20 hours a week.
- Information and advice for students, whānau, and the education sector.
COVID-19 — Ministry of Education
- If you’re an essential worker during COVID-19, you may be able to get help with childcare.
Home-based care options for children aged 0—13 of essential workers — Ministry of Education
Get 20 hours a week of free early childhood education (ECE)
To get up to 20 free hours, you have to:
- find an approved service that offers 20 hours ECE
- enrol your child with the service
- state on the enrolment form which days and hours you’ll claim for your child — no more than 6 hours in a day and 20 hours in a week.
Not all ECE services offer 20 free hours. Check before you enrol your child.
Types of approved childcare
You can get 20 hours free at a:
- teacher-led service, like kindergarten or preschool
- home-based service
- Te Kōhanga Reo, or
Payments are made to the ECE service. In a home-based service, payments can be made directly to the educator, depending on the arrangement you have.
Your ECE service can charge you for any hours your child attends outside of the free hours.
They can also ask you:
- for a donation
- to pay optional charges.
Splitting hours across childcare services
If your child attends more than one ECE service you can split your free hours between them as long as you:
- don’t claim for more than 6 hours a day and 20 hours a week across all ECE services
- don’t use the same hours or days at more than one ECE service at the same time
- update your enrolment information any time you change your child’s hours or the services they use.
Some services require children to be enrolled for a minimum number of:
- hours per day
- days per week.
Some people will also be able to claim a childcare subsidy to help with other ECE costs. You can’t claim the subsidy for the same hours you’re claiming for free.