To support early learning services with the impact of COVID-19 and winter illnesses on staffing levels and attendance we have made some changes to the funding settings for the current funding period.
You can apply for emergency closure funding if your early learning service is unable to open due to the impact of COVID-19 on your staffing. This could be because staff are required to self-isolate as they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Applications for an emergency closure due to COVID-19 can be requested until 31 December 2022.
Emergency Closure Evidence Requirements
For emergency closures due to COVID-19 we require:
- a written request with confirmation of the number of staff affected (but not their names)
- why you are unable to staff the service (this will vary from service to service), and
- the time frame concerned.
Notifying your local office
As services’ circumstances and operating contexts vary, in the first instance, we suggest you contact your local Ministry Te Mahau office to discuss whether Emergency Closure is an option for your service. They will work with you to consider options and the best outcome for your situation.
If you think an emergency closure is required, before you decide to close your service, contact your regional office. For weather, fire, or earthquake related emergency closures contact your regional office as soon as practicable afterwards.
In the first instance, depending on the circumstances, you may notify the Ministry of the situation by phone/text. The Ministry will formally acknowledge your request and the outcome in due course.
Funding for Homebased Educator Absence due to COVID-19
Funding can continue to be claimed if an educator, or a member of their household, is isolating on public health advice as they have tested positive for COVID-19.
This is similar to the emergency closure funding that would be available to a centre if they couldn’t operate because teachers needed to isolate due to COVID-19.
However, as the Emergency Closure code can only be used at a service level – that is, when the entire service is closed – this funding will be provided through a temporary change in the absence rules. Usually, absence funding is not available for children who can’t attend because their educator is unavailable.
Absence funding can be claimed by a service if the reason the educator is unavailable is as described above. It is not available if the educator has chosen not to offer care.
Funding due to this measure can be applied until 31 December 2022.
Frequent Absence Rule Reset
The Frequent Absence Rule will be reset on 1 October 2022 for all early learning services.
This means October becomes ‘Month 1’ for the purposes of assessing a pattern of frequent absence. Previous patterns prior to 1 October 2022 can be disregarded.
EC12 Absence Exemption from 1 October to 31 December 2022
An absence exemption can be applied for children who are unwell with COVID-19.
To access this exemption, an EC12 Form (Application for exemption) and an EC13 Form (Supporting Medical Certificate) are required. The EC13 form may be completed by the child’s parent or guardian if the child is unwell with COVID-19.
For absences of 4 weeks or more parents will need to complete a ‘statement of intention to return’ or ‘reconfirmation of enrolment to provide the evidence that a child has not permanently left the service. This must be in writing but could be in the form of an email or text message. You will need to keep a copy or record of this for audit purposes.
You must not claim funding for children who have left your service.
80 discretionary hours are available to teacher-led services for the October 2022 to January 2023 funding period.
Early learning services are required to have evidence that they have looked for a certificated teacher before using discretionary hours from 1 October 2022.
For Playcentres, quality-funded home-based services and quality-funded Kōhanga reo we have increased the number of discretionary situations (sessions or days) currently available per funding period from five to 10.
This applies for the October 2022 to January 2023 funding period.
Funding Band Protection
Teacher-led centre-based services
A service’s funding band for the November 2022 funding round will be no lower than the funding band a service received during the July 2022 funding round.
This protection applies to all funding bands, including those on 100%, and will apply to both the wash-up and advance funding rates calculated for the November 2022 funding round.
Services do not need to apply for this protection. But need to ensure that they submit an RS7 return for the November 2022 funding round.
Any change to a service’s funding because of the funding band protection will be processed for payment on 21 November 2022.
Protections do not extend to changes in a service’s funding rate caused by a change to their pay parity opt-in status.
Teacher-led centre-based services include kindergartens, education and care services and hospital-based services.
Quality Funded Services
Quality funding protections have been extended for home-based services, ngā kōhanga reo and playcentres. Services that were on the quality funding rate on 1 June 2022 will remain on the quality funding rate for the June 2022 – September 2022 period.
Notional Roll Funding for Playgroups
We are introducing a Notional Roll scheme to help playgroups manage low attendance.
Where a playgroup has an average number of children attending that is less than the previous funding period average, this can be increased to the previous period’s average number of children attending for the 1 January 2022 to 30 June 2022 and 1 July 2022 to 31 December 2022 funding periods.
You should contact your local Ministry Te Mahau office to discuss your playgroup funding.
Funding Settings for June to September 2022
Details of the funding settings applied during the June to September 2022 period can be found in the following document.