Annual Early Childhood Education (ECE) Census Return Week: 22 to 28 June 2020

Please note: The return for the 2020 ECE Census is due on the 15th July 2020.

From here you can access the RS61 ECE return collection forms, definitions for completing the return, and code tables relevant to the return.

On this page


The Annual ECE Census is completed by early childhood education services and gives the Ministry of Education a 'snapshot' of the number of attending children and staff at ECE services during the return week. This information contributes to a comprehensive information base on early childhood education in New Zealand and is used in the development of policy and monitoring of early childhood education.

2020 ECE Census Changes

There are three changes to data collected for the 2020 ECE Census

Collection of staff age band

Collecting data on the approximate age of staff members will help the Ministry understand the age structure of the ECE workforce. This change applies to ECE teachers, homebased coordinators, homebased and Playcentre educators, and specialist staff. Staff age will be as at Monday of ECE Census week.

Collection of total hours worked by staff working during the return week

Capturing the total hours worked by each staff member during the ECE Return week will enable the Ministry to understand the ECE workforce at a more granular level, than full-time vs part-time. It will also help to provide an insight into how much time staff spend outside of contact time with children. All services other than Playgroups, are asked to record the total hours worked for each employed staff member. These hours include contact time, non-contact time, breaks and unpaid work, but only on the services’ premises, and do not include any leave. When a staff member performs more than one role services are asked to add all the time worked across these roles together.

New Playcentre qualifications

Playcentre Federation have created three additional qualifications for Playcentre educators. In 2020 these new qualification codes (listed below) will be added to the existing Playcentre qualification list.

  • P14 'New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4)'
  • P15 'New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 5)'
  • P16 'Any other qualification recognised in the NZ Gazette for a person responsible in Playcentre'

Services Not Using ELI (RS61 Return Forms)

For the casual and hospital-based services and playgroups which are not connected to ELI you can complete your return digitally and submit the form via Email to by the 15th July 2020.

There are two RS61 forms available:

  1. RS61 ECE Return for Casual and Hospital–based Services
  2. RS61 ECE Return for Playgroups

All licensed ECE services (except casual and hospital-based services) should now be connected to ELI and can complete the form electronically. If you are unable to do this, please send an email to for assistance.

For assistance in completing the RS61 form, please refer to the guidelines below.

2020 ECE Return Forms

Collection Forms


Annual ECE Return Data Quality Report:

Services Using Early Learning Information System (ELI)

ELI is an information system for licensed ECE services. It collects and stores information on participating children's enrolment and attendance in licensed ECE services. Information is also collected on staff working in each licensed ECE service.

  • ELI is now available to all licensed ECE services to complete the ECE Return. This is the replacement of the paper-based RS61 form services used to complete.
  • ELI allows licensed ECE services to submit data to the Ministry electronically. If any licensed ECE services don’t already have a student management system, you could submit the return through ELI Web which is a free student management system for all licensed ECE services. Please contact the ministry for more information on ELI Web.
  • More information on ELI can be found on the ELI website. If you have further queries, you can contact the Ministry at: ELI Queries Mailbox or by calling 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).

Contact Us

Early Learning Information System (ELI)
For more information or assistance with ELI survey please contact:
Phone: 0800 323 323
Email:ELI Queries Mailbox

Annual ECE Child & Staff Return
For questions about the July 2019 Annual ECE Child and Staff Return please contact:
Phone: +64 4 439 5390
Email:ECE Statistics Mailbox