ECE services as priority settings for child health Event as iCalendar

13 February 2017

9am - 5pm

Venue: University of Otago, Wellington

Location: 23a Mein Street, Newtown, Wellington

Host: University of Otago

Cost: $300 early bird, $400 after 21 December 2016.

Contact email:


Are you working with Early Childhood Education environments at DHB level or in the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Education? Are you with an NGO that works with child health?

This course presents current and international research into ECE related health issues, and provides a forum to discuss national ECE health policy. The course will provide an insight into the health issues in the ECE sector as well as practical strategies for engagement with ECE services and organisations.

Over the past three decades New Zealand has seen major shift in living environments for babies, toddlers and pre-school children, away from home towards non-parental care and especially full day care. Participation of 2 and 3 year-olds has increased to around 64% and 94% respectively. Many children, including some as young as six weeks, are attending 45-50 hrs per week. Consequently, ECE Services have great potential to do both good and harm to the physical, mental and emotional health of children.

Unfortunately New Zealand has among the worst space allocation per child in the OECD, and the lowest minimum indoor temperature standard. The minimum indoor space standard equates to 30 children and about 5 adults in a modest three-bedroom house, resulting in crowding, excessive noise and stress, with consequences for emotional health. ECE environments are high risk for gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections and otitis media (with socio-behavioural consequences). The sheer volume of ECE related infections is a major factor in under-reporting, perversely producing a view in NZ Public Health that they are not a priority.

On the positive side there is a small, relatively recent groundswell of research into NZ ECE environments and health. There also exists a lot information on effective disease prevention in ECE Service environments, and knowledge of ways to protect and promote mental and physical health, including effective design of ECE facilities for health. Good quality ECE environments present wonderful opportunities for education and Health Promotion. While ECE Services are defined as educational facilities licensed by the Ministry of Education, they are indivisibly health and education settings, needing a well-planned inter-sectoral approach. This approach needs to go beyond child health checks, to active promotion of healthy design and practices.

Find out more here.