Equity Funding is a small amount of additional funding for early childhood education (ECE) services intended to reduce educational disparities between different groups, reduce barriers to participation for groups underrepresented in ECE, and support ECE services to raise their level of educational achievement. This evaluation of the initial uses and impact of Equity Funding, funded by the Ministry of Education, is intended to contribute to the development of policy within the early childhood education sector.
ECE services first received Equity Funding in March 2002. The purpose of this evaluation was to look at their use of Equity Funding over a year, and the effects it had. It focuses on a cross-section sample of 47 services, including education and care centres, kindergartens, kōhanga reo, playcentres, Pasifika centres, home-based services, and hospital services, with data collected in late 2002–2003, and again in late 2003–2004, when 8 other kōhanga reo were also included.
We triangulated interview data, service data and field researcher observation data to ascertain patterns of use and levels of participation and quality for the evaluation sample services. We then checked to see whether these patterns were consistent with national patterns revealed through two surveys and a random sample of annual reports. We triangulated the data collected from within individual sample services, to relate uses made of Equity Funding to changes in participation and quality indicators reported by ECE services or evident in field researcher observations. Through this process we found some changes in quality and participation for the evaluation sample services that seem to be connected to Equity Funding expenditure, as well as conditions that support positive impacts.