duck clip boardTo begin your search for a service, see the National Register of ECE Services.  Type the name of your city into the SEARCH. You can search within different categories of services (such as homebased, language nests, and Playcentre). You can click on the Extended Search button to search by other criteria such as for a private or community service, and number of children. You may have noticed signs for services in your local area – look the name of these up in the Register too.

Prepare a list of the names and addresses of services that interest you. The best services are usually staffed above minimum adult:child ratio requirements for child supervision, so there will almost certainly always be someone who is available to show you around, even if you arrive without an appointment.

Try to visit at least four ECE services with your child so you have a basis for comparison. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - you are the one who is choosing the service and the service is not choosing you. You might decide you don’t like a service and leave after a quick tour, or you may get positive vibes and stay longer to give your child some time to play and for you to observe and find out more. 

Below is a copy of the My ECE Checklist to complete when visiting services. If someone is not available to show you around, still record your impressions using the Checklist. These first impressions are what you saw and felt before the service knew you were visiting and had time to prepare or put on a show. 

Importantly, you should also consider who you are leaving your child with. In centres this includes the service managers and teaching staff, cooks, and admin staff if they have contact with children. In home-based services this includes the educator along with everyone who lives in the same household, and the visiting teacher or co-ordinator who is assigned by the service to oversee the educator. You should meet the van driver/s if the service provides a pick-up and drop-off service.

Does each person have the personal characteristics and personality that you think will be good to have around your child? Note that the service is responsible for ensuring that background checks, including police checks, are done. It is mandatory for all workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 but not against other transmissible vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough. You have a right to ask about vaccination status but workers also have a right not to disclose should they choose not to.

If you don’t find a suitable service after visiting four, extend your search and consider other options. Before you decide which service to enrol at, talk through your thoughts, feelings, and findings with someone else such as a friend or work colleague.  


pdfDownload and print a copy of the checklist (available for free for personal use only)

My ECE Service Checklist


Service Name:

Service Name:

Service Name:

Service Name:

PRACTICAL CONCERNS                                               

Is the service in a location that is convenient?


Is it in a safe location?


Is it in a single-storey building or on the ground floor?


Are the hours suitable?


Can I adjust the hours my child attends if I need to?


Do the fees meet my budget?


Have I been adequately informed about any extra costs? (e.g., stationery, holiday charges, late pick-up charge) 


Does my child like this service and the people at it?


Do I feel welcome and comfortable in the service?


Is it able to support my child’s learning, and any health and disability needs?


Is support shown for parents to breastfeed on site?  


Is the name and contact details of the service owner or operator available in case of emergency and for parents to make a complaint directly to if necessary?



Is the number of children manageable for the teaching staff so my child is more likely to receive individual attention? 


Is it a relaxed and emotionally-safe environment, with laugher, cuddles and affection shown, and everyone enjoying being there?


Does it embrace diversity – e.g., include men in its teaching staff and welcome children with disabilities?


Does it have an open-door policy, allowing families to visit and stay when they wish?


Are opportunities regularly given to families to join curriculum activities and attend special events?


Is interest shown in what children do at home, their pets, and so on? 


Are parent views on their child’s care asked for and respected (e.g., for sleep, diet, etc)?


Is there ample play space and a good variety of play areas and materials for the number and ages of children, both inside and outdoors?


Are children actively involved in activities (not wandering around, passively watching, or doing nothing)?


Is children’s privacy respected (e.g., toilets have doors which children can close when they wish)?


Is high attention paid to correct hand-washing and hygiene practices for children and adults?


Are children actively supervised?  (i.e., every child has an adult with them or close by who is watching and able to quickly intervene if necessary) 


Will my child be supervised and taught by a person/s who is trained and qualified in early childhood education (Qualified means an early childhood education qualification at Level 7 for centre teachers and at least Level 4 on the NZQA Framework for home-based educators)? 



Other things I want to check out are:



Print a copy of the checklist  pdfMy ECE Service Checklist (available for free for personal use only)

Download a free copy of the "pdfThe Kiwi Parent Guide to Early Childhood Education"