Community based ECE services

Community-based ECE services

There are many different models of ownership and operation in the early childhood education sector.

  • Some services are community-based. These may be 'stand alone' or may come under the umbrella of a larger organisation
  • Others are privately owned and operated.

For the purposes of the Ministry, community-based ECE services are defined as those organisations which:

  • belong to and are governed by their communities
  • have assets which are owned by and will return to those communities
  • cannot distribute financial gains to their members.

Types of community-based organisations include:

  • incorporated societies
  • charitable trusts
  • statutory trusts, and
  • community trusts.

The definition of community-based also includes ECE services owned by public bodies (for example government departments, councils, crown entities).

Establishing a community group

It is strongly recommended that you ensure that your group is formally established as a legal entity and is governed by a constitution. Guidance and forms can be found on the Ministry of Economic Development website.

You should get professional financial, legal and management advice early in the process.

Some organisations provide resources to help you write constitutions, register as a charity, run a business or get grants.

You can find out more in the 'help from others' section below.

There are also benefits in registering under the new Charities Act (2005). You can find out more at the website of the Charities Commission.

Help from the Ministry of Education

Advice and support

The Ministry of Education can provide your group with advice and support. (The type and amount of support available will depend on the capacity of your local Ministry of Education Office and the type of support you need.)

Establishment funding

Establishment funding which was previously available to community based (not for profit) groups to increase participation in early childhood education will no longer be available from July 2010. 

Government’s recent decision to no longer offer Establishment Funding means there are no further future Establishment Funding rounds.  The July funding round will not take place. 

Funding will be redirected into initiatives to increase participation in areas of highest need such as the Targeted Assistance for Participation Fund.

The Government’s priority is making early childhood education accessible in communities where children are missing out – in particular many Māori and Pasifika children, and those from lower socio-economic communities.
Further details of participation initiatives will be announced shortly.

Help from other agencies and government departments

The New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations is an association of community and voluntary welfare groups. The Federation's website has a 'Keeping it Legal' section with fact sheets on legal entities, incorporated societies and trusts. It includes information that will help you to write a constitution.

CommunityNet Aotearoa provides information about the community sector. Their website includes case studies, hot topics and 'how to' guides. The 'Links' section includes a list of organisations that provide grants and other funding for community groups.

The Charities Commission is responsible for registering and monitoring charitable organisations in New Zealand. Its website includes a guide to the Charities Act 2005 and the register of charities.

The Companies Office website allows you to form and maintain companies, search the register of companies and file annual returns. It also has information about incorporated societies and trusts.

The Department of Internal Affairs administers Lottery Grants, Community Grants Schemes, Grants Online and Trusts.

The Ministry of Economic Development website includes information about starting a business. There's a wide range of information on this site.

The Business Information Zone website has information to help small business.


Last updated: 24 November 2014