How to Make a Complaint and Options

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To enable parents to make a complaint, should they wish to do so, every early childhood service is legally required to display (or provide to parents in Home-based ECE) a copy of its complaints procedure.

It must tell parents what the contact details are for the local office of the Ministry of Education so parents know they can make a complaint against the service to the local Ministry of Education office.  

Making a complaint direct to the service

A complaint may concern something that does not involve a breach of regulations, for example, your child is coming home without socks and your child’s socks are always going missing at the service. Should the problem concern something that you think the early childhood service could sort out itself, then direct your complaint to the person in-charge/manager and not to other staff.

By making the complaint in writing the service will need to give you a response and will not later be able to claim that you did not make a complaint or that it was just a little gripe that didn’t need to be acted on.  If you are not happy with the service’s response, report the issue or problem to the Ministry of Education.  It is your right to be listened to.

Reporting the service

Should a service not be up to scratch (see the rules and regulations) then please report this as soon as possible.  

If you do not have time or do not feel comfortable contacting the Ministry of Education yourself, you can ask My ECE to help by passing on your complaint to the Ministry and (if you request) keep your identity confidential (go to the online Complaint form). My ECE is a neutral go-between. My ECE does not investigate complaints, take sides, or pass judgement.

To make a complaint direct to the Ministry of Education, the email address is: [email protected]  In the subject line of your email write “complaint against ____ (and the name of the early childhood service).  In your email, include the full name of the service, its full address, and details about what has gone wrong and as much information as you can remember (e.g., dates).  If you don’t want the Ministry to tell the service that you complained to it, then write “confidential” and tell the ministry not to tell the service any personally identifying details such your name or your child’s name.

Should you not hear back personally from someone at the ministry within a week to confirm that they have received your complaint and that they will be looking into it, then send the email again and follow it up.  Don’t let it be lost in the system.  It does not help the service to improve or help children if the Ministry of Education does not look into your complaint. 

Should you not be informed by the Ministry of Education of the outcome of its investigation of your complaint then contact the Ministry and ask for an update. 

If you are not satisfied with how the Ministry of Education responded, then you may wish to inform the Ombudsman and make a complaint against the Ministry of Education to the Ombudsman. Call 0800 802 602. It is your right to be listened to and to have your complaint adequately investigated.

Making a complaint under the Fair Trading Act

It is illegal for any business (including an early childhood service) to give false and misleading information in the promotion and sale of goods and services (this includes fees charges). Report to the Commerce Commission by emailing [email protected], or call 0800 943 600. 

Making a complaint under the Consumer Guarantees Act

Does the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 apply to an early childhood education and care service?  The answer is yes. To explain: by virtue of the Consumer Guarantees Act, there is a guarantee that educational services will be delivered by the ECE service with reasonable skill and care.  You may be able to ask for compensation to reflect the lower value of the service you have received.  Contact the consumer protection hotline at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
Freephone: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER), Email: [email protected]

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