2019 Complaints and Incidents Report

Published on Tuesday, 06 October 2020
Last updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

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The Ministry of Education has released its 2019 Early Childhood Education Complaints and Incidents Report, which summarises the complaints and incident notifications received about licensed early learning services including kōhanga reo and certificated playgroups (early learning services).


In 2019, the Ministry of Education received 415 complaints about licensed early learning services including kōhanga reo. These complaints were made in relation to 354 services, or 7.6 per cent of the licensed early learning sector.

The number of complaints decreased by 14 (3 per cent) between 2018 and 2019, but the number of individual services that were the subject of complaints increased from 344 services in 2018 to 354 in 2019 (3 per cent increase). This represents a slight increase in the percentage of services that had a complaint made against them from 7.5 per cent to 7.6 per cent in 2019.

The Ministry assessed all the complaints received to determine whether a full investigation was required, with children's health and safety being key triggers drivers. In 2019, 89 per cent (370) of all complaints were investigated.

The remaining 45 complaints (11 per cent) did not require further investigation as they were either resolved prior to investigation, withdrawn, or referred to another agency.

In 2019, 58 per cent of complaints investigated (213 individual complaints out of 370 investigated complaints) were upheld.

These 213 upheld complaints related to 191 licensed early learning services, or 4.1 per cent of all services operating in 2019.

The Ministry distinguishes 25 categories of complaints and complaints can fall into more than one category. Complaints upheld in 2019 were most commonly related to the following categories:

  • health and safety – 20 per cent (84) of all complaints received and 32 per cent (69) of complaints upheld
  • management and administration – 21 per cent (88) of complaints received and 28 per cent (60) of upheld complaints
  • supervision – 16 per cent (68) of all complaints received and 16 per cent (34) of complaints upheld
  • behaviour management – 15 per cent (63) of all complaints received and 14 per cent (30) of complaints upheld)
  • accidents – 17 per cent (72) of complaints received and 12 per cent (25) of complaints upheld.

Following investigation, 157 complaints (42 per cent of those investigated) were identified as ‘not upheld’. A complaint is determined as ‘not upheld’ when the concerns couldn’t be substantiated and/or the issue was not related to non-compliance with regulatory requirements.


In 2019, the Ministry received 465 incident notifications from 379 licensed early learning services, or 8.1 per cent of the sector. As per previous reporting years, the incident notifications we received in 2019 included a mixture of voluntary and mandatory notifications.

Release of the report has been welcomed by industry groups who say it improves accountability.

Te Rito Maioha ECNZ Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe says it is good to see the Ministry taking firm action against services breaching regulatory requirements.

“As the changes signalled in the Early Learning Action Plan and the related changes to regulatory and licensing requirements are implemented, we look forward to improved monitoring and quicker decision making to ensure quality outcomes for tamariki and whānau. This will ensure there is an increase in quality provision in the early learning sector.

Early childhood education is key to the development of our youngest citizens. There is a collective responsibility to ensure that every child in Aotearoa New Zealand has access to high quality early childhood education, she said.

Read the full 2019 Complaints and Incidents Report here.

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