All three, four and five-year-olds can get up to 20 hours of early childhood education a week funded by the government.
Early childhood education services in New Zealand include:
- Kōhanga reo
- A’oga amata and other Pacific childcare centres
- Early childhood education and care centres
- Home-based education and care options
As with all children, it’s important to begin planning early and, if you can, visit a variety of services so that you can find the one that best suits your child, family and whānau. Talking with other parents about their experiences can also help with planning.
Some things to look for and ask about are:
- How are children with disabilities included in the way the service operates?
- What support will be in place when your child starts attending?
Early childhood education services can have waiting lists so it can be a good idea to begin looking around for a service before you need it.
- The Ministry of Education’s learning support team helps you to get all the support available for children with special education needs. When your child is very young, the learning support team is often your first point of contact.
- The Early Intervention Service (EIS) provides specialist support for children whose disability significantly impacts on their ability to participate and learn. Early intervention teams include speech language therapists, early intervention teachers, psychologists, advisors on deaf children and kaitakawaenga (Māori cultural advisors). These people might work with you, your child and your child’s early childhood education centre (ECE).
Early intervention staff can work with your child at home, at their ECE or elsewhere. They can start from soon after your child is born or from when their needs are identified, until they start school, if necessary.
You can contact the early intervention service yourself if your child is at home with you full time, or your ECE service or kōhanga reo might make the request after talking with you.
For more information about the Early Intervention Service
- The Ministry of Health can provide support for audiologists, physiotherapists, paediatricians, dieticians and occupational therapists. This support should be discussed with your local Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Child Development team or your paediatrician.
- Work and Income can also provide a childcare subsidy for families who care for a child who receives the Disability Allowance. This can be for up to 50 hours of childcare per week. For further information, contact Work and Income on 0800 559 009, via their website or using myMSD.