Making a Complaint

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A complaint form can be found at the following link:

The My ECE complaint form is a good one for parents and ECE services to use. Using the form ensures that both parents and the service have written evidence regarding submission of the complaint, outcomes and agreements. 


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:

Click on the following link for a copy of the standard complaints form to complete and give to your ECE service:


Legal matters

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.



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 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

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 - contact us.


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.  


Comments previously added

My kids all go to the same daycare centre. My daughter has been left alone with sharp scissors (2 days in a row now). She has cut her hair on both days. I know its only hair but what would of happened if her or another child cut themselves? I have addressed this with the people at daycare but nothing has been done. (Alistair 2015-01-13)

Hi have you tried talking to the manager or centre director? If that doesn't help, then make a complaint to the Ministry of Education. (Mindy 2015-01-16)

Hey there. I hope you don't mind me asking how you've addressed this with the people at your children's early childhood service? What did you say and what was their response? What I would do if I were you is to ask for a meeting with whoever is the supervisor. Express your concerns, especially around the safety of your child and the level of supervision. And then I would ask them to take written observations of the area, or to create a plan on how they will provide adequate supervision or guidance for their staff members to make sure this type of thing doesn't happen any further. Ask to be involved in the plan as well, because you as a parent might have good strategies the teachers might be able to use (you know your child best and what will work with her). Once the plan has been written, see what happens and the result that comes from it. Collaboration and consultation is the best way to resolve these types of issues. Hope this helped! (Garrett 2015-01-16)

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