It is of public interest to release the names of early childhood services that operate below legal minimum standard.
At the end of this page are links to the names of services from around New Zealand that failed to meet legal standards
This information supports you as a parent to make more informed choices. If an early childhood service is shown as having breached regulations ask it to explain what it did wrong and the improvements that have been made. Transparency and accountability are cornerstones of providing a quality service for children and families.
The services named here are only those that are known (were caught) breaching regulations. There could be more services that were not compliant with licensing standards.
"At the end of Feb 2018 approximately 2% of services were assessed as not meeting licensing standards", said the Ministry of Education on 5/5/2018. But the Ministry of Education does not know the real figure as it does not carry out annual licensing checks. Many services, once opened and licensed may never receive another inspection from the Ministry again.
The Education Review Office is not legally required to inform the Ministry of any known or alleged breaches it discovers. The Ministry is mainly prompted to find out if a service is actually meeting a specific standard or standards following complaints received by parents, teachers and others and after a serious injury or a fatal accident occurs. It calculates the compliance rate each year based on this and not on knowledge of the actual state of each and every service.
Many people think that the Education Review Office (ERO) carries out a full inspection when it reviews a service which it does every three or four-years. It does not. It asks providers to attest to meeting regulations but does not routinely do a full and careful check. (Read more about ERO and its reviewing of ECE services)
As Dr Sarah Alexander chief executive of ChildForum said: "It is impossible to know the true number of services that are not meeting licensing requirements."
The Ministry of Education has the power to change the status of a service's licence from 'full' to 'provisional'. It says it does this when breaches in standards are severe, including if there are immediate risks to the health and safety of children and taking into account the total number of rules or regulations broken. The Ministry has no power to issue a fine and even with immediate risks to children present it is not likely to close a service but rather tell it what it must do to improve - thus a service does not face financial penalties and can continue to operate as before albeit on a provisional licence.
The Ministry monitors provisionally licensed services by setting deadlines for improvements. A provisional licence is issued for a fixed period of time and if improvements are not made then a new deadline is set (unless the Ministry decides to cancel the licence). At a cost to the taxpayer the Ministry contracts a professional development provider to educate and support the service provider to resolve issues (for example read about the Bright Sparks childcare case). Following the return of the service to a full license status the Ministry has completed its monitoring.
It is rare for a licence to be cancelled due to a service not meeting minimum licensing standards for safety, health and curriculum. Cancellation mostly occurs when there are also financial issues and/or alleged fraudulent claiming or use of government funding.
The ChildForum early childhood organisation has been instrumental in researching and bringing to public attention early childhood sector concerns around transparency in the Ministry of Education’s handling and reporting of serious incidents and complaints (read more). In 2014 it began by carrying out work to define from an early childhood sector perspective what might constitute a ‘serious’ incident and to give insight into problems around the lack of regular monitoring of standards and with the Ministry’s handling of and reporting of complaints. (read more)
ChildForum has noted that the Ministry maintains secrecy where it can, on any dangers and problems at services. We know for example that Discoveries Educare (in the 2016 list had an unsafe tree that fell and seriously injured children because it was reported in the media). But parents at one of the services named in the 2016 list where pornographic material was found in a photocopier would be none the wiser since the Ministry will not say at which service this occurred and there is no requirement that the service tells parents.