When school’s out: Conversations with parents, carers and children about out of school services

When school’s out: Conversations with parents, car…
01 Feb 2007

This report draws on information from a large consultation exercise that asked a wide range of parents, carers and children how they would like to see OSS develop.

The term ‘out of school services’ (OSS) refers to before-school, after-school and school-holiday programmes for school-aged children (aged five to 13 years), where the care of a child has been formally handed over from a parent or caregiver to an OSS provider.

OSS can benefit families in a number of ways. By offering children a range of enrichment activities and experiences, quality OSS can enhance children’s health, social, behavioural and educational development. For parents, the provision of affordable, accessible and appropriate OSS can remove barriers to participation in paid work and ensure that families are able to obtain quality care for their children without placing living standards at risk. OSS is also able to provide useful support to families with challenging care responsibilities, study or voluntary work commitments. It is the Families Commission’s view that all of these aims are important and that a well-developed OSS sector needs to pursue a range of goals in the interests of children, parents and families as a whole.

New Zealand research and consultation evidence indicate that achieving a reasonable balance between work, family time and income is one of the most significant challenges to family wellbeing. In order to invest in the future of their families, parents and carers need to have real choices about care arrangements for their school-aged children. This includes being able to care for children themselves outside school hours, through informal arrangements and/or through the use of formal services.


The main purpose of this report is to provide information to develop government policy on out of school services (OSS). The report is based on the Families Commission’s understanding of current New Zealand policy and practice, international models of OSS, research literature and, most importantly, what parents, carers and children told us they want for the future development of OSS.

The immediate impetus for this report is Choices for Living, Caring and Working (New Zealand Government 2006), a 10-year Government plan to improve the caring and employment choices available to parents and carers. A key focus of this work is the development of an OSS Five-Year Action Plan, for consideration in mid- 2007. This report is intended to stimulate public debate and influence the nature and content of this Action Plan.

Key Results

Placing the users of services – parents, carers and children – at the centre of future policy developments is critical to ensure that OSS meets the needs and preferences of all families. This report aims to ensure that the OSS Five-Year Action Plan is designed with families in mind. This should ensure that OSS contributes to positive child development outcomes, addresses barriers to paid work or training and provides better support for parents and carers with challenging caring responsibilities.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018