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2017 Childcare Survey

The 2017 Childcare Survey will focus on:

  • how parents and caregivers use informal and formal childcare arrangements
  • the relationship between childcare and education/employment
  • how the government’s childcare subsidies are used.  

Childcare Survey delayed until late 2017

We have delayed the Childcare Survey until late 2017 due to potential risks to the data collection of the redeveloped Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS).

Reason for the delay

The Childcare Survey, a supplement of the HLFS, was to be run in 2016 but is now delayed to the September 2017 quarter. It has been delayed to minimise potential risks to the data collection of the redeveloped HLFS.

The redeveloped HLFS will start collecting data in the June 2016 quarter. The delay of the Childcare Survey allows the new HLFS to run a few times before new childcare information is added to the HLFS.

The plan for next year

We are committed to collecting and disseminating data from the Childcare Survey and will use the extra time to explore linking administrative data to complement the survey. The survey will also be agile to incorporate new key information needs if childcare-related policies significantly changed during the delay period.

Future communication

Throughout the delay we will communicate with you on the progress of the survey. For questions please email

What is the Childcare Survey?

The Childcare Survey will meet our customers’ needs for information on childcare arrangements, and the relationship between childcare and parents’ work and study arrangements.

We’ll do this through running a survey in 2017. See the technical notes below.

What does the Childcare Survey measure?

Previous childcare surveys in 1998 and 2009 collected information from parents and caregivers, within the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) population, who had children under the age of 13 years, about:

  • their use of different childcare arrangements (formal and informal)
  • their use of childcare-related government subsidies
  • their work arrangements
  • childcare-related work and study difficulties they experienced, and their consequences.

In future we will continuously link the data from the Childcare Survey to administrative data through the IDI. This will expand the potential use of the Childcare Survey information we’d gained previously from a ‘survey snapshot’. The linked longitudinal dataset will focus on the long-term labour market and educational consequences of different levels of access to childcare.

How do early childhood education (ECE) and out of school services (OSS) affect New Zealanders?

Data on labour market dynamics and childcare use show that New Zealand has lower employment rates for sole mothers than other OECD countries. The Ministry for Women found that many parents who want to work (especially mothers) report difficulties in accessing childcare. International studies conclude there is a strong, positive correlation between childcare use and female employment.

ECE has a positive impact on a child’s learning, with international and national studies listing positive correlations from improved literacy and numeracy, and better social outcomes. The Ministry of Education has stated that “taking part in ECE builds a strong foundation for your child’s ongoing education, learning and development”.

What subsidies does government provide to make childcare more accessible?

Subsidies for ECE and OSS programmes include:

  • childcare subsidy for children under five years (up to 50 hours a week) attending approved ECE programmes
  • 20 hours ECE for children aged three to four years who are attending approved ECE programmes
  • Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) for children aged five to 13, up to 20 hours a week and increasing to 50 hours during school holidays
  • subsidies for young parents in training/education
  • subsidies that support projects aimed at communities with low ECE participation.

See Help with childcare costs for more about the childcare subsidy, 20 hours ECE, and OSCAR.

See Young parent payment for more about education and training.

See Equity funding for more about additional funding to licensed ECE services.

Consultation workshop – June 2015

On 12 June 2015 we held a consultation workshop for the Childcare Survey. Following the workshop we used the online tool ‘Loomio’ for further discussion around how the survey and administrative data will be able to meet enduring information needs and produce relevant statistical outputs.

Why did Statistics NZ consult?

We consulted about the new collection to ask potential customers about what information needs they had that we could meet. We also wanted to ask customers who used the 2009 (and/or 1998) childcare survey findings how they used the data, and what measures were the most useful. We also wanted to know how childcare data could:

  • answer key policy and/or research questions
  • be improved through us adding variables/topics that are important to research or monitoring.

One of the government’s Better public service (BPS) targets is to improve children’s participation in ECE (up to 98 percent by 2016). The Ministry of Education has collected a great deal of administrative data from ECE providers around this BPS target.

Through the Childcare Survey, we have the opportunity to find out more from the parents’ and caregivers’ perspective; for example, the barriers they face in accessing childcare, and the effect this has on their work/study arrangements. We can also increase our understanding on how much parents rely on informal childcare (care by relatives or non-relatives that isn’t affiliated to an organisation).

What are other countries doing?

There is a high interest among OECD countries in work, family, and childcare policies. Having high quality, affordable early childcare facilities is a priority for European Union members. Achieving the ‘Barcelona objective’ (to provide childcare to at least 90 percent of children aged three years to school age, and 33 percent of children under three) is central to the Europe 2020 Strategy.

In June 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics ran the Childhood Education and Care Survey throughout Australia – as a supplement to their monthly Labour Force Survey. This recorded information on informal and formal childcare attendance for children up to 12 years, alongside parental work and measures of learning.

Technical notes

Childcare arrangements cover early childhood education care for pre-school-aged children (five and under) and out-of-school services for care outside school hours, for children aged five to 13 years. These arrangements do not include extra-curricular activities (eg swimming lessons).

The Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) is a linked longitudinal dataset that covers an extended range of pathways and transitions information. The IDI helps with policy evaluation and research analysis, and with producing statistical outputs on people’s transitions and outcomes. It currently includes economic, education, justice, health and safety, migration, tenancy and business data. 

See Integrated Data Infrastructure for more information.

Page updated 11 August 2016

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