Fast Facts

More toddlers in formal early childhood care

More two- and three-year-olds are in some form of formal early childhood education now than there were eight years ago, Stats NZ said.

Formal early childhood education (ECE) and care includes things like kindergarten, playcentre or playgroup, kōhanga reo, and other childcare centres.

The rise in two- and three-year-old toddlers in formal ECE helped boost overall attendance from a little over half (54 percent) of all preschool children attending formal ECE in 2009, to almost two-thirds (64 percent) in 2017.

“With the rise in formal care, a corresponding decrease has been seen in the percentage of children using informal care,” labour and income manager Sean Broughton said.

In 2017, 199,000 preschool children attended formal ECE and care. Just over two-thirds (68 percent) of two-year-olds were in formal ECE in 2017, up from 53 percent in 2009. In 2017, 84 percent of three-year-olds were in formal ECE care, up from 73 percent in 2009.

“Preschool children are more likely to be in formal care as they get older. The latest data tells us that only 18 percent of children under one year old were in formal care, compared with 89 percent of four-year-olds,” Mr Broughton said.

Between 2009 and 2017, there was a fall in the proportion of preschool children with no formal care arrangements, down from 46 percent to 36 percent.

The main reason given for using formal ECE arrangements was parents’ work commitments, while the main reason for not using formal care was that parents preferred to look after children themselves.

Kindergartens and ‘other’ childcare centres most popular

In 2017, 34 percent of preschool children attended ‘other’ childcare centres and 18 percent attended kindergartens. ‘Other’ childcare centres include daycares, preschools, crèches, and Pacific Islands early childhood centres.

Since 2009, rises were recorded in the proportion of children attending ‘other’ childcare centres and kindergartens, while the proportion of preschool children attending playcentres, home-based care, playgroups, and kōhanga reo all fell.

“As expected, the type of formal care used changes as a child ages,” Mr Broughton said.

‘Other’ childcare centres were the most popular formal ECE care type for all preschool age groups under five years old. For younger children, playgroups and playcentres were the next most commonly used types of formal care. This shifted to kindergarten for older preschool children.

Of those preschool children attending formal care:

  • 60 percent had one formal care arrangement only
  • 38 percent had both formal and informal care arrangements
  • 5.4 percent had multiple formal care arrangements.

These categories add up to over 100 percent, as the groups are not mutually exclusive – some children had multiple formal care arrangements, as well as informal arrangements.

Families where all parents were employed (either one- or two-parent families) were much more likely to use ‘other’ childcare centres than other family types. Families where there was at least one parent not employed were the most likely to have no formal ECE care arrangements for their preschool child.

Schoolchildren also record rise in the use of formal care

Formal care was less common for school-aged children than for preschool children. The proportion of school-aged children (5–13 year olds) using formal out-of-school services (OSS) and care was 15 percent in 2017, up from 8.8 percent in 2009.

After-school care was the most common formal arrangement used by school-aged children (12 percent). This was followed by before-school care (2.7 percent), and study support or homework centre (2.2 percent). The main reason given for using formal OSS arrangements was parents’ work commitments.

Most schoolchildren (85 percent) had no formal care arrangements. The main reason parents gave for not using formal care arrangements was that they preferred to look after the child themselves.

The Childcare in New Zealand Survey was conducted in the September 2017 quarter as a supplement to the Household Labour Force Survey. The Childcare in New Zealand Survey was last undertaken in 2009.

Source: Stats NZ

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