20-Hours ECE – Fees and Optional Charges

Share Me

Any fees within the first 20 hours of care must be treated as optional charges. Parents can be asked to pay charges for the first 20 hours of their child (aged 3 – 6 years) attending an ECE service (up to a 6-hour daily limit). But services cannot make parents pay as charges within these hours are ‘optional’ and not compulsory.

Children eligible for 20 Hours ECE and restrictions on access

20 Hours Free ECE

Free ECE applies only to 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds before they start attending school.  It is available for up to a maximum of 20 hours per week and for no more than 6 hours in a day at any ECE service that is signed up to administer the Ministry of Education 20 Hour ECE scheme. 

Is access to 20-Hours means tested?

Regardless of the level of household income, or whether parents are in paid employment, the ability to access 20 hours of ECE for up to a maximum of 6 hours a day at services offering this, remains unchanged.

Optional charges

Should your centre or home-based ECE service ask you to pay a particular amount on top of receiving the 20-hour subsidy for your child, check if it provides the following information as explained below.

When asking families to pay an optional charge for any hours within the 20 Hours ECE subsidy allocation, the service must provide details on how the charge relates directly to the child’s education and care and it must be for additional extras and not for something that should be provided for anyway under the regulations as part of being an ECE service. 

The information families are provided with should show the real and actual costs of each of the additional items and activities that are included within the optional charges (e.g. the bus fare for a field trip is $4, lunches over a week are $20, or a sunhat is $8.00).  

The service should inform families in writing that they will not be penalised in any way should they decline to pay the optional charges.

An ECE service is able to withhold the additional feature(s) covered by the optional charge. But no ECE service should decline the enrolment of or discriminate against a child whose parents do not agree to pay an optional charge.

However, once parents have agreed to pay optional charges (check the signed enrolment form) then parents legally must pay the optional charges. The Ministry of Education requires services to give families reasonable opportunities to opt-out of their agreement to pay optional charges.

It is not permitted for services to transfer any of the cost of providing 20 hours ECE a week (up to 6 hours daily limit) to other hours in the week that the child attends. 

Read more:

Changing 20-Hours ECE temporarily to another service

20-Hours ECE can still cost parents a lot and be expensive

Parent access to information on service funding

How to make a complaint

Leave a Reply

No questions please – comments only. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More
articles

child complaint form
Complaint Forms & Information

Child Complaint Form

Support your child to make a complaint, using this child complaint form, and have their needs and wishes heard. This form is to be used

Read More »
childcare subsidy baby children WINZ
Fees, Costs & Childcare Subsidies

Childcare Subsidy through WINZ

The WINZ Childcare subsidy is the only government financial assistance available to help New Zealand families cover the cost of childcare.  ECE service operators and owners

Read More »
teacher reading book to a group of children
Children's Books and Early Reading

Early Reading Development

How can you as a parent or caregiver best support your child’s early reading development? Here are some ideas. Infants and toddlers Preschool Age 3

Read More »
Parents' Choice Awards
Parents' Choice Award

The Parents’ Choice Awards

Parents’ Choice Awards – “Celebrating the best ECE services for young children and their families” What is the Award and Eligibility This is an annual

Read More »
myECE white logo blue back

Join the Parents Council

Are you are parent, grandparent, or caregiver of a child under 6 years?    

Join the ECE Parents Council.   You will receive:

  • A monthly newsletter (free)
  • Survey invitations and notifications of important changes in ECE

We promise not to spam you with rubbish, just useful information.