From 2000 to 2013 enrolment data describes regular enrolments in ECE licensed services.
From 2014, the method for data collection changed. For services responding through the ELI tool, the data relates to attendances in ECE licensed services, not enrolments.
Operating structure: Describes whether a service operates in sessions, or as a full day service, or as a mixture of the two.
Ownership: Two ownership classifications are given: private and community-based. Private services include: sole-traders, companies, partnerships, private trusts, and state-owned enterprises. Community-based services include: incorporated societies, charitable trusts, statutory trusts, community trusts, government departments, health boards, city councils, and public education institutions.
Ethnic group: The ethnic group the child that is enrolled belongs to, as prioritised in the following order: Māori, Pacific Peoples, Asian, Other, European/Pākehā.
Enrolments in casual education and care services and hospital-based services have historically not been included because they do not have regular enrolments, they are also not included in the attendance data.
Changes to data collection/processing
From 2000 to 2013, all ECE Census data was collected from paper-based RS61 returns. On these forms, enrolment data described regular enrolments in ECE licensed services regardless if children were absent during the return week.
In 2014, the method for data collection changed and around 40% of services completed the Annual Census using the Ministry's new electronic collection tool for ECE: ELI. For the services that filed through ELI, the data relates to attendances in ECE licensed services, not enrolments. This is a change to the definition of the data and means that the data should not be compared to previous years. A small number of services continue to use the paper-based RS61 return; for these services their enrolment data continues to describe regular enrolments in ECE licensed services regardless if children were absent during the return week.
In 2018, the playcentres connected to ELI and filed the ECE Returns through ELI, and in 2021 90% of licensed ECE services submitted their ECE return through ELI. Only Te Kōhanga Reo and casual services filed paper-based RS61 returns.
The ECE Census is not mandatory for playgroups and therefore the response rate differs between years. Enrolments in casual education and care services and hospital-based services have historically not been included because they did not have regular enrolments; attendance data for these services has likewise been excluded.