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Making a Complaint about the Quality of Your Child's Early Childhood Education (ECE) or Childcare Service
Are you having a problem with your child's ECE service? Let us know at ChildForum
If you have a childcare or early education issue to report please drop us a line and let us know as well as complaining to the relevant people or organisation (see list below). Click here to email us.
- We may be able to give you some quick advice or hints.
- If we know what is happening it may be that we can write information and prepare material with advice for early childhood services, the government, or whoever to help to reduce the chances that it will happen to someone else.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for licensing early childhood centres and home-based care arrangements. It also administers government funding to services. However, unlike schools the Ministry of Education says they are not responsible for early childhood services. Early childhood services are not public services in the same way as schools and attending an early childhood service. Thus if you have a complaint, the Ministry of Education may only respond and act if it relates to compliance with legal requirements or if there is a misuse of funding.
The Education Review Office reviews early childhood services and can make recommendations to services on a broad range of curriculum, health and safety, management, and staffing matters. You may or may not get a chance to talk with a Reviewer when they visit your service as Reviewers do not talk with all parents/families. Reviews are generally only conducted by ERO once every three years and are not usually done in response to a parent's complaint.
The Privacy Commissioner is the person to contact or send a written complaint to if it is a matter of your confidential information being used in a way you have not given permission for (e.g. your child's portfolio with confidential family information has been shown to other parents or visitors).
Contact the Police if you notice a child being abused, neglected, or put at risk in other ways such as a staff member or home educator taking rude or sexualised images of children, or drinking alcohol or being drunk in the presence of children. If the service is not properly restraining children in vehicles with appropriate car seat restraints or is putting children in physical danger contact the Police.
If you notice another parent or caregiver putting their child at risk, for example they might be arriving at the centre drunk, or may not be using a car seat restraint for their child, then tell the person in charge at your early childhood service. It is better for the person in charge at your centre to deal with this in the first instance by talking with parent and then following it up with the Police or Child Youth and Family if appropriate. However, if you notice that the parent's or caregiver's behaviour doesn't change and the child continues to be at risk - do immediately contact the police or Child Youth and Family Services and report. We must all share responsibility for child safety.
If you are told that your child can no longer attend the service for a reason that you find unacceptable contact the Human Rights Commmision (if discrimination) or the Children's Commissioner who provides an advocacy service and may help with some quick legal advice so you know what to do. For example, your early childhood service may have a policy that they can exclude a child with disabilities or it might take exception to you breastfeeding on the premises and tells you not to do this or you will have to withdraw your child.
Problems with the Service's Quality
All licensed services should have a written complaints policy or complaints procedure. Ask to see this. Follow the process described. Often the process is to talk with the educator or staff member concerned first, then the person in charge, then if not successfully resolved talk with, or submit a written complaint to, the manager or governing body of the service.
Hopefully your ECE service is using the "Parent/Caregiver Complaint and Feedback" form provided by ChildForum. When an ECE service uses this form it is showing respect for your views and expectations and a desire to find solutions and put in place a plan for change. ECE service members can download a copy of this and other forms by clicking here.
Are You Imagining that a Problem Exists - Is it the Same for other Children and Parents?
You may find it helpful to informally chat with other parents and find out if they have a similar complaint just in case what you think is a problem turns out not to be problem. But if other parents share the same concern, your complaint is more likely to be listened to and responded to more promptly if made with other parents.
A Mismatch Between What You Want and Expect and What the Service is Able and Willing to Provide
Sometimes a service is just not suitable for a child or family. You may complain but no changes are made and the service is still operating in a legal fashion and breaking no laws or regulations. If this is the case - don't stress trying to change the service. You are now better informed to make a choice of a service that will be more suitable and where the same problem/problems hopefully will not arise again.
Address and Phone Details to Make an Official Complaint
Office of the Children's Commissioner, PO Box 5610, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145. Ph 0800 224 453
Report to your nearest Police Station. You may phone your local police station and ask a question in confidence to ask if it is a criminal matter before deciding to make details known. Phone 111 in an emergency.
Privacy Commissioner, PO Box 466, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140. In Auckland Ph 302 8655. Outside of Auckland Ph 0800 803 909
Human Rights Commission
Human Rights Commission, PO Box 12411, Thorndon, Wellington 6144.
Ph 0800 496 877
Education Review Office
Contact your area Education Review Office (under Government Depts in the white pages of the telephone book). Or write to the head office - Education Review Office, PO Box 2799, Wellington 6140. Ph 04 499-2489.
Ministry of Education National office - contact only if the regional office doesn't respond satisfactorily to your complaint
Ministry of Education National Office, Early Childhood Education, PO Box 1666, Thorndon, Wellington 601. Ph (04) 463 8000.
Ministry of Education Regional Offices
Whangarei office: PO Box 911, Whangarei 0140. Northland. Ph (09) 436 8900
Auckland office: Private Bag 92644, Symonds Street, Auckland. Ph (09) 632 9400
Hamilton office: Private Bag 3011, Hamilton. Ph (07) 858 7130
Rotorua office: PO Box 1749, Rotorua. Ph (07) 349 7399
Napier office: PO Box 147, Napier. Ph (06) 833 6730
Lower Hutt office: PO Box 30177, Lower Hutt. Ph (04) 463 8699
Wanganui office: Private Bag 3012, Whanganui. Ph (06) 349 6300
Nelson office: 19 Haven Road, Nelson 7010. Ph (03) 546 3470
Christchurch office: PO Box 2522, Christchurch 8140. Ph (03) 378 7300
Dunedin office: Private Bag 1971, Dunedin 9054. Ph (03) 471 5200
Invercargill office: Private Bag 90-122, Invercargill. Ph (03) 211 3610
Please let us know if any of the details here have become outdated or if you have additional information that would be useful to share to assist parents and families.
The State of Early Childhood Education, 2010 Report (1 match)
Assessing the Evidence on Early Childhood Education/Childcare: A Systematic Review of the Best Research Evidence (1 match)
Controlled Crying to Train Children to Settle Themselves to Sleep: Giving Clarity to Conflicting Opinions (1 match)
Just Do It! Motivating You to Speak Up (1 match)
Parents' Use of ECE/Childcare, Setting Up a New ECE Service, and Current Problems in the Sector (1 match)