Making a Complaint


How services deal with complaints internally  

All licensed services should have a written complaints policy or complaints procedure. Ask to see this. Follow the process described. 

Usually 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.  

Click on the following link to read more about about making a complaint:

A complaint form to use is available from the My ECE parents website.  View and get a copy here

Using the form ensures that both parents and the service have written evidence regarding submission of the complaint, outcomes and agreements. 


A mismatch between what you want and what the service provides

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.


Should the ECE service be breaching minimum standards or causing harm in some way

The Ministry of Education is responsible for licensing early childhood centres, playgroups, hospital based services, and home-based care arrangements. It also administers government funding to services. The Ministry of Education says they are not responsible for the day to day running and management of early childhood services, so if you have a complaint the Ministry may not respond unless the complaint relates to compliance with legal requirements for the operation of an early childhood service 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 or four 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 sexual 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 Commission (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. 


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.  If other parents share the same or additional concerns they should also make a complaint. 


Address and Contact Details to Make an Official Complaint

Children's Commissioner
Office of the Children's Commissioner, PO Box 5610, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145. Ph 0800 224 453 

NZ Police
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
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
The Education review office puts complaints on file until the ECE service's next review which may be up to 3 - 4 years away.  Nevertheless let ERO know if there is a problem with the quality of education or management at a service.  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


Let other parents and families know if the service you are using is wonderful or if there is a problem with it  

Go to the online directory of ECE services at, look up the name of your ECE service and rate it.  


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 please let us know

Are you interested in joining us? 
Become a member and also gain access to our significant online knowledge base 

Take out a membership



We are confident you will be delighted to discover and experience the benefits of membership.

Would you like to know more? 

Membership Options


Who is this for?
Teachers - Student Teachers - Parents
$78.00 one year
$145.00 two years
Your own personal username and password.
Includes access to research library

ECE Service Provider  

Who is this for?
Service providers with one or more licensed ECE services
Starting from $198.00 for one year
Your own unique username and password.
Includes access to research library 

Researcher Membership or
a Library Subscription

Who is this for?
Libraries and organisations $250 annual 
Researchers $145.00 for two years
Access to over 20 years of NZ-International Research in ECE journal issues and articles