Provision of early childhood education services

Why This Is Important

Participation in high quality ECE has significant benefits for children and their future learning ability. Some studies have found that engagement in ECE helps to develop strong foundations for future learning success (Statistics NZ and Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, 2010).These effects apply to all children but may be particularly important for building academic achievement in children from poorer communities and socio-economic backgrounds (Ibid., and Mitchell, et al, 2008).

ECE has been shown to positively impact literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills well into the teenage years, while other studies have shown that high quality ECE encourages the development of cognitive and attitudinal competencies, and leads to higher levels of achievement (Ibid., OECD, 2011, Statistics NZ and Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, 2010, Wylie et al, 2009).

International and longitudinal studies have also found that participation in high quality ECE can translate into improved longer-term outcomes. Several studies have identified links between participation in ECE and better social and economic outcomes for children when they reach older ages (ibid). This link is, again, strong for disadvantaged children. Some studies have also identified positive relationships between ECE participation and the affect on wider societal outcomes; for example, ensuring participation in the labour force and in building labour force capability (Ministry of Women's Affairs, 2004).

ECE Participation has been identified as a key factor in supporting vulnerable children which has led to its inclusion in the Better Public Services Programme, launched in 2012. This Programme aims to increase participation in early childhood education to 98 percent of all new entrants by 2016 (State Services Commission, 2012).

If children are to attend ECE, there has to be a sufficient number of services available for them to enrol in. Service provision needs to grow to meet any growth in the underlying population.  It also needs to meet growth in the proportion of families wanting their children to attend ECE and to do so for longer hours.

Indicator

Three indicators have been used in this report:

1. Annual growth in the number of licensed ECE services

.

Annual growth in the number of licensed ECE services:   (Data Source: Ministry of Education Licensing Information.)

.

.

2. Annual growth in the number of licensed ECE services per child (age-weighted 0-4-year-old population)

.

Annual growth in the number of licensed ECE services per child (age-weighted 0-4-year-old population)  (Data Sources: Ministry of Education: Licensing Information & RS61 July Roll Returns | Statistics NZ: Estimated Resident Population)

.

Weighting:

The population for each single year of age is weighted by that age group's share of tota ECE hours in the RS61 census week.

.

3. Percentage of services with waiting times

.

Percentage of services with waiting times:      (Data Source: RS61 July Roll Returns)

.

Weighting:

These percentage figures are first calculated separately for each single year of age for each service type.  A single figure for each service type is then calculated by weighting the figures for each single year of age by that age group's share of the service type's total enrolments in the latest year.  The exception is kindergartens, where the weighting is only done for 3 and 4 year-old children.  A single overall figure is then calculated by weighting the figures for each service type by that service type's share of total overall enrolments in the latest year.

Interpretation Issues

Annual growth in the number of licensed ECE services

Positive annual growth means that there are more licensed services than there were previously.  The higher the annual growth, the greater is the increase in the number of services.  Negative annual growth means that there are fewer services than there were previously.

Annual growth in number of licensed ECE services per child (age-weighted 0-4 year old population)

Positive annual growth means that growth in the number of licensed ECE services has been higher than growth in the age-weighted 0-4 year old population.  There are therefore more ECE services per child than there were before.  Negative annual growth means that there are fewer ECE services per child than there were before.

Age-weighting of the population takes account of the differing extents that children of different years of age are enrolled in ECE.

Percentage of services with waiting times

Waiting times refer to the length of time a family wanting their child enrolled in an ECE service would have to wait before the service can take the child in.

Waiting times give an indication of both the level of unmet demand for ECE and the profitability of ECE services. 

  • If a service has waiting times, there is likely to be at least one child not able to attend that service immediately.  The child would not be able to attend ECE at all if nearby services also have waiting times.  The longer the waiting times, the higher will this level of unmet demand be.
  • A service with waiting times is likely to be full and thereby more likely to have higher levels of profitability than services with no waiting times.

An increase over time in the proportion of services with waiting times would therefore indicate both more children not able to attend ECE services and increasing profitability in the sector.  If the proportion fell over time, fewer children will be waiting but profitability may well be falling.

Waiting time data are available for kindergartens, playcentres, education and care services, and home-based services.  Waiting time data are not available for kōhanga reo services, casual education and care services, hospital-based services, Correspondence School, or playgroups. Services that do not take in children of particular age groups are not included in the figures for that age group.

Waiting times for home-based services refer to the wait for families to obtain a place with one of the caregivers in the network. Depending on individual preferences, some families may wish to wait longer for a caregiver with a particular skill or type of environment (e.g. has a piano in the house).

Footnotes:

  1. Data Source: Ministry of Education: RS61 July Roll Returns (for age-weighting purposes).
  2. Data Source: Statistics New Zealand: Estimated Resident Population (by single year of age).