duck clip boardTo begin your search for a service, see the My ECE Service Directory.  You may also have noticed services located near where you live, or on the way to work or near your workplace.  Look these ones up in the Directory to find details.  

You could phone first and make an appointment to visit. This can be a good idea if you don’t know what hours the service operates. If the service is home-based the visiting teacher or coordinator will need to first interview you and arrange times that suit you both to visit educators in their own homes. 

The best centres are often what we call – “open door services” – they have nothing to hide and are staffed above minimum requirements for child supervision, so there will almost certainly be someone available to talk with you and show you around.

Try to physically visit at least four different ECE services with your child so you have a basis for comparison. Watch and consider your child’s reactions to the people and environment in each service.  

If you are not satisfied with any service (or there are no vacancies at the service you like) then visit some more services or consider looking into different types from those you are currently focused on – e.g. look into home-based ECE if you are not satisfied with any centre, or vice versa.

Below is a Checklist. Print some copies of the My ECE Service Checklist to take with you to complete when you visit services - pdfhere is a pdf copy to print  










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Comments and observations

Is the service a place that I feel comfortable and at ease in?


Is my child showing a liking for the service during our visit?


Are the hours suitable?


Can I change hours if I need to?


Does the cost meet my budget?


Have I got information on all extra costs? (e.g. absence fee, late pick-up charge, materials fee, etc.) 


Is it in a convenient location?


Is it in a safe location and position?  


Is it able to support and help my child’s interests, special abilities, and disabilities?


Is it able to support and protect my child’s health?


Is the service breastfeeding-friendly?


Do I see evidence that parents and caregivers are not prevented or discouraged from visiting and staying with their child when they wish?


Does the service work under the Code of Ethical Conduct for Early Childhood Services?


Is the Code of Children’s Rights in ECE followed by the service?



There are not too many babies or children for my child to feel lost in the crowd


Close supervision of every child is provided, and for each child there is at least one adult who knows what the child is always doing


There is laughter, fun, and an atmosphere where every child can feel accepted and respected


Affection is shown toward the children (kindness and cuddles)


There is lots of talking, discussion, and building of shared memories between adults and children


The adults hold expectations for children’s learning and development


Noise levels are not high and are safe for children’s ears


There is high attention to correct hand-washing and hygiene practices


Children’s interests, personality and family values are known and appreciated by those teaching and caring for them


There is heaps of play space inside and outside for the number of children


There is always something on offer for the children, so more choices and less down-time (less: passive watching, aimless wandering, sitting in front of screens, and travelling in vehicles)


Children’s personal privacy and space is respected, such as when using the bathroom or wanting to play in peace without interruption


There is variety of different play areas and materials on offer for the children. Children can also engage in adult work such as gardening and cooking.          


The teachers / carers really want to be there and love their work


The adults are well trained in young children’s care, development, and learning (ECE degree or diploma qualified). This is especially important if it is not a parent-led service


The adults engage in professional learning and ongoing further education



Would you like to know more about what quality early childhood education looks like and issues to consider?  

Download a free copy of the "pdfNZ Parent's Guide to Childcare and Education Services (birth to 6 years)"