How to Apply for a Daycare or Childcare License New Zealand

How to Apply for a Daycare or Childcare License In New Zealand (9 Simple Steps)

Are you passionate about providing a nurturing and educational environment for children? Excited about starting your own licensed daycare or childcare center? 

Well, you’re in the right place! This article is your ultimate guide to navigating the licensing process with ease. From understanding the application requirements to obtaining your full license, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

No matter whether you’re just starting out or already in the process of applying, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to help you along the way.

How to apply for a daycare or childcare license in New Zealand

DifficultyModerate ●●●○○
Number of steps9
Time to perform stepsCan take several weeks to a few months (excluding obtaining full license)
Things you needDetailed information about your proposed daycare or childcare center (location, size, facilities, administrative system, policies, etc.)

To apply for a daycare or childcare license in New Zealand, you must first be granted network approval by the Minister of Education (unless excluded). Once granted, you will then be permitted to proceed with the application process as provided by the Ministry of Education.

When network approval from the Minister of Education is in place (this can be done online–apply here), you’re ready to embark on the application journey for your daycare or childcare license. 

Step 1. Plan and contact the ministry.

Plan and contact the ministry

It’s crucial to start with a solid plan and establish contact with the Ministry of Education. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Ministry of Education’s requirements and guidelines for licensed early childhood services. Understand what is expected of you and the standards you need to meet.
  1. Design and develop your daycare or childcare service according to the regulations and recommendations set by the Ministry. Pay attention to the layout, curriculum, safety protocols, and other crucial aspects.
  1. Assess the demand for early learning services in your area. Use the Education Counts to gather insights into existing services and determine the need for your center.

With your plan in place, it’s time to take action and reach out to your local ministry office. By contacting them, you’re initiating the process with the Ministry of Education and expressing your aspirations to apply for a licensed daycare or childcare center.

Yes, the first step is that easy – it’s as simple as opening a line of communication to start the application process and setting your journey towards licensing in motion.

Step 2. Complete the application form and pay the fee.

Complete the application form and pay the fee

It’s time to dive in and provide all the required information to the Ministry of Education. Here’s how to proceed:

  • Fill out the form accurately and provide all the required information. Don’t leave any blanks! Be thorough and precise as you describe your centre-based ECE service.
  • Once you have completed the application form, you will then need to pay the non-refundable application fee of $2,817.50 (including GST). It’s the cost of getting your application processed and assessed. Pay it promptly and according to the Ministry’s instructions (in the form).

Step 3. Gather the required documents.

Gather the required documents

Collect all the documents mentioned in the application form. We’re talking about the documents related to the following:

  • Service management
  • Staffing
  • Building
  • Curriculum 

Now, it’s possible there might be a few more documents you need to acquire from other organizations that will bring your application to life! 

For instance, you can reach out to your local council to get your hands on any required papers related to the Resource Management Act 1991 and Building Act 2004.

This will show that you’re following the rules and regulations when it comes to your center’s location and infrastructure.

Remember the open communication you established with the ministry? This will be beneficial in this step as well. Feel free to reach out to them if you need help determining additional supporting documents to strengthen your application.

Step 4. Make a statutory declaration.

Make a statutory declaration

It’s important to seal the deal and authenticate your application through a statutory declaration. This step holds great significance in your licensing process.

To ensure the legal validity of your declaration, you must sign it in the presence of an authorized witness. This could be:

  • a Justice of the Peace
  • a solicitor 
  • or another authorized individual who can attest to the authenticity of your statement

Before you sign the statutory declaration, take a moment to carefully review your application to ensure that all the information is accurate. Once you’re confident in its truthfulness, confidently sign the document in the presence of an authorized witness.

Step 5. Submit your application.

Submit your application

Once you have everything in order, it’s time to choose your preferred method of submission. 

You have two options: scanning and emailing the documents or sending them via postal mail. 

  • Scanning and emailing the documents: If you choose to scan and email, make sure to attach the application form and all the necessary documents in a clear and legible format. Double-check that you have included everything required before hitting that send button. (Pro-tip: Your local ministry office’s email address can be found on their official website.)
  • Via postal mail: Alternatively, if you prefer the traditional approach, carefully package the printed application form and supporting documents in an envelope. Address it to your local ministry office and send it through postal mail. 
Keep in mind: It’s essential to retain a copy of the application and all the accompanying documents for your personal records. This serves as a reference point and provides peace of mind knowing that you have a backup of your submission.

Step 6. Provide additional information (if needed).

Provide additional information

Sometimes, the Ministry of Education may require additional information or clarification to ensure a thorough evaluation of your application. Although it may seem like a minor detour, this step holds immense importance in moving your licensing process forward. 

Here’s the scenario: If the ministry reaches out to you requesting further information, consider it a positive sign. When you receive their request, act promptly and respond within 10 working days. Provide the requested documents or clarification they seek. 

Don’t worry, they’ll start reassessing your application once they have received all the additional information, should they need it.

Step 7. Schedule a visit to your proposed center.

Schedule a visit to your proposed center

Congratulations! Your application has met the initial requirements. 

And now you’ve made it to an exciting phase of the licensing process – the Ministry of Education will soon visit your proposed daycare or childcare center. This visit is a crucial step in assessing the readiness and suitability of your center. 

Let’s explore what to expect and how things should go in this particular step:

  1. The Ministry will reach out to you and schedule a visit to your proposed daycare or childcare center. This visit is an important opportunity for them to witness firsthand the incredible space you’ve created for children’s learning and development.
  1. To ensure a successful visit, it’s important to fully prepare your center. Complete any remaining building works and ensure that your education program is engaging and ready to go. Make sure all the necessary furniture and equipment are in place, reflecting your commitment to providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children.
  1. Pay close attention to your administrative systems. Have your enrollment procedures, health and safety protocols, and staff management processes in order. This showcases your professionalism and dedication to running a well-organized center that meets the required standards.
  1. Coordinate with the service provider’s contact person and select staff members to be present during the visit. Their presence highlights the collaborative effort and teamwork that go into creating a successful center. It’s a chance to demonstrate how everyone works together to create an enriching environment for children.

In other words, get ready to showcase your passion, dedication, and the wonderful environment you’ve created for children’s growth and development!

Step 8. Facilitate the assessment visit.

 Facilitate the assessment visit

Get ready to roll out the red carpet as the Ministry representatives come knocking on your center’s door. This step is a significant milestone in the licensing process, as it allows them to personally evaluate your center.

When the Ministry representatives arrive:

  • Extend a warm welcome and make them feel at home. Show your excitement and gratitude for their visit.
  • Offer a brief tour of your center, highlighting the key areas and resources that contribute to an enriching learning environment.

During the assessment visit:

  • Give the representatives unrestricted access to all areas that will be evaluated. This includes the building, classrooms, outdoor spaces, resources, and facilities.
  • Be prepared to provide supporting documentation or evidence that showcases your compliance with regulations and best practices. This could include records of staff qualifications, health and safety policies, governance information, and more.
  • Engage in open and transparent communication. Answer any questions they may have and provide additional information or clarification as needed.

How long does it typically take to receive a decision on the success of my daycare or childcare license application?

The decision about the approval of your daycare or childcare license application will be made within 30 working days of receiving it, provided that the ministry has all the necessary information.

What happens if my daycare or childcare license application is approved?

If your daycare or childcare license application is successful, you will receive an email or a physical copy of your license through postal mail. This license serves as official documentation that grants you permission to operate your daycare or childcare center.

It is mandatory to prominently display your license at your facility, visible to parents and visitors. This provides transparency and assurance that your service is authorized and adheres to regulatory standards.

Step 9. Progress from probationary to full license.

Progress from probationary to full license

If you don’t know yet, once your application is approved, you’ll be granted a probationary license, which allows you to operate your daycare or childcare center. However, our goal is for you to achieve a full license.

The probationary license serves as a trial period. During this time, the Ministry of Education will closely assess your center’s policies, practices, and curriculum implementation. 

Within 12 months of obtaining the probationary license, the Ministry will conduct a comprehensive assessment. They’ll evaluate how well you have implemented the licensing standards—in other words, they’ll determine your readiness for a full license.

Upon successfully meeting all the requirements, you’ll receive a full license. With a full license in hand, you’ll enjoy several benefits, including:

  • The opportunity to expand your services
  • The ability to accommodate more children
  • A chance to establish a strong reputation in your community
Keep in mind: As you progress from the probationary license to a full license, it’s important to maintain ongoing compliance with the licensing standards. Continuously review and improve your policies, practices, and curriculum to ensure you provide the best possible care.