Understanding wait times and occupancy rates: Results from the 2018 Early Childhood Education Census
This report discusses key aspects of waiting times and occupancy rates for early childhood education (ECE) services and their relationship to enrolments and licensed places. It intends to provide a better understanding of variation in waiting times by service type and around the country between 2009 and 2018.
Author(s): Ministry of Education.
Date Published: December 2019
The proportion of ECE services with waiting times has dropped in the last decade, primarily due to an increase in the number of places available for children. However, services with waiting times still exist with some areas experiencing more pressure on places than others. Therefore, there is an opportunity to increase the number of places available for some service types and in some areas where there is still high demand for ECE places.
- Over the last decade, the proportion of ECE services with waiting times1 has dropped. This has affected all service types, and especially kindergartens and education & care services.2 Occupancy rates3 of services have also declined over the same period.
- Of New Zealand’s main cities,4 Dunedin was the only city that showed an increase in the proportion of services with waiting times for children aged 1; this proportion increased from 44% of services in 2009 to 51% in 2018. Dunedin also had the lowest drop in the proportion of services with waiting times for children aged 4, from 54% to 47% of services over the same period.
- In 2018, Education & care services and Kindergartens had the highest proportion of services with waiting times among New Zealand‘s main cities. Education & care services had over 29% of services with waiting times for children aged 1 and 4 and kindergartens had over 59% of services with waiting times for children aged 4.
- In Auckland, the proportion of services with waiting times has dropped over the past decade. However, this was not consistent across the city; some areas such as North and East Auckland saw a smaller drop than other areas.
- The majority of districts from both the North and South Islands showed a drop in the proportion of services with waiting times. Only, the Far North and Waimate districts had increases in the proportion of services with waiting times, despite an increase in places available in these districts.
- Waiting times’ is the length of time children wanting to start attending an ECE service would have to wait before the service could take them in. For Home-based services, their waiting times only indicate whether there are any educators available to take on extra children, whereas the reality is that many families may have to wait longer before there is an educator available who meets their specific needs. Moreover, a child can be registered on the waiting list for more than one service simultaneously.
- Education & Care includes Casual Education & Care.
- Occupancy rates are a measure of how full ECE services are. The occupancy rates refer to the extent that children are using all the hours that services would be funded for if their licensed places were full. So an occupancy rate of 100% means that all licensed places are full for all the hours they can be funded for.
- New Zealand’s main cities correspond to the six most populated cities of the country (Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin).
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