Access to Childcare

Childcare is an important tool for parents to engage with work and further education.

The research on this page uses the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) longitudinal study of child development to investigate childcare access and affordability issues. The study asked mothers about difficulty accessing childcare when their child was nine months old, and again at two years.

This first report asks: Who has problems accessing childcare?

  • Childcare access issues affected 7.7 percent of the GUiNZ cohort at nine months and 7.5 percent at two years.
  • Māori and Pacific mothers were two or three times more likely to experience issues accessing childcare than European mothers.
  • Mothers cited a range of access issues, which implies that no one solution will address the problem. Cost was cited as a major factor, particularly for Pacific mothers.

The second report asks: How persistent are issues with access to affordable childcare?

  • Issues with childcare persist for 20 percent of mothers at 9 months and only 43 percent are clearly resolved (indicated by the child being in childcare). 
  • Māori and Pacific peoples face modestly more persistent issues than Europeans, which, when combined with higher rates of access issues at 9 months, make them 3 to 4 times as likely to experience long-term access issues. 
  • In general, the results show more disadvantaged mothers, who were found in the first report to have higher rates of issues with access to childcare, also have more persistent issues with access to childcare. This is particularly true for mothers from low-income households. 


More reports will follow and will investigate:

  • if parents with prior access issues have different experiences with childcare once they secure it;
  • links between current access issues and mother's paid work outcomes; and
  • long-term labour market effects for mother with childcare access issues.