In 2013, attending an early childhood education (ECE) service became a social obligation for children of beneficiaries in New Zealand. This article draws on stories gathered through interviews in a qualitative study of the effects of ECE social obligations on affected families and whānau. This article is intended to stimulate discussion and contribute insight, understanding and awareness to policy makers and educators. Concerns are raised regarding the incorporation of ECE policy within Ministry of Social Development legislation. Previous Work and Income (WINZ) administration errors and the perceived lack of consistency and approachability of WINZ staff raise concerns about their ability to inform and support whānau to locate appropriate ECE. The article highlights the need for quality local, culturally responsive ECE to promote participation, rather than obligatory legislation. Factors of responsive ECE are discussed as well as benefits of integrated services.
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