Parents and caregivers

Educational providers – including all schools – will be closed while New Zealand is at Alert Level 4.

Schools will be provide information about what this means directly to parents.

The upcoming school term break will be brought forward to start on Monday 30 March. For the remainder of this week, and through the term break, schools will establish ways to deliver teaching online and remotely.

​Guidance for parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers

Help children cope with anxiety by providing accurate information.

Children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events such as COVID-19. Parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers will have a particularly important part to play in reassuring children at this time.  

Children will react to and follow your verbal and non-verbal cues. If you are able to stay informed and realistic, it will be easier for you to reassure children effectively as well. 

Children need factual, age-appropriate information about COVID-19 so that they can also feel informed and in control. They need to know how they can play a part in avoiding infection and slowing the spread of virus. 

They also need to feel that any fears they may have can be talked about and addressed. 

Reassure your children

If no one in your family has COVID-19, nor has had close contact with anyone with COVID-19, emphasise to your children that they – and your family – are fine. 

Evidence shows children are less susceptible to COVID-19. Parents and caregivers should follow standard guidelines to prevent the virus spreading by: 

  • covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or elbow 
  • washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and drying them thoroughly: 
    • before eating or handling food 
    • after using the toilet 
    • after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose  
    • after caring for sick people.

Let your children talk about their feelings, and help reframe their concerns into the appropriate perspective. 

You know your children best. If they have a lot of questions, consider how much extra information would or wouldn’t be helpful for them to know before replying. 

Dr Michelle Dickenson has some great information for kids about COVID-19(external link)

Essential workers with children aged 0–14

Where possible, essential workers need to make their own arrangements for childcare, due to limited capacity.

We know this will not be possible for everyone. Alternative arrangements have been made so essential workers can access childcare and continue to work.

Your employer will tell you if you qualify as an essential worker for these purposes.

If you are making your own arrangements

Making your own arrangements is the preferred approach. We encourage you to use your existing networks for in home care, for example a neighbour, relative, friend or current carer/nanny who can come to your house, or provide childcare in their own home. There are Public Health rules you need to comply with:

  • The person providing care for your children essentially becomes an extension of your self-isolating household group.
  • This group must remain the same for the whole 4-week period.
  • The carer should not care for children from other households/families (other than their own) over the same period.
  • If a child or carer becomes unwell, they must stay at home.

If you do not have access to childcare through your own networks

If you are unable to access childcare to perform your essential service, the government has agreed that it will fund other licensed childcare providers (for example through PORSE, OSCAR and Barnados) to provide in-home care to the children aged 0–14 of essential workers. They would be subject to the same Public Health rules as set out above.

For the purposes of providing care to children of essential workers, the in-home carer will be classified as an essential worker.

Contact details for providers

The Ministry of Education website lists all available providers, and this list is updated as more information becomes available(external link)

Some of the key providers include:

0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)

Edubase / Home Grown Kids
0508 44 54 37

0800 023 456

Managing shared custody

The best thing everyone can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is stay home. This includes parents with shared custody arrangements, and their children. The Principal Family Court Judge has released guidance for parents with shared custody arrangements. 

Generally, children in the same communities can continue to go between their homes. Simple precautions should be taken to protect the health of parents and children. This includes parents from different households keeping a distance of more than 2 metres.

If the families are in different towns or communities, then the children should stay in one home. Children should also stay in one home if they're feeling unwell, or if someone in their home is unwell or has been overseas in the last 14 days. This will protect the health of parents, caregivers and children.

More information is available on the District Courts website(external link)

Schools and early childhood

The Ministry of Education is working with all schools and early childhood centres and is providing resources and additional support. We know that maintaining routines is important and children look to both their parents and teachers for this support. It’s natural for children to want to be at school to play and learn with their peers so where possible schools will operate as usual.

For updated information about possible closures check with your school or early childhood centre.

Some children may be feeling worried about COVID-19 and being at school will give them further opportunities to understand what’s happening and who is helping. If you want to talk to your children about COVID-19

Save the Children have developed a site with support information for children(external link)

Keeping children safe

If you’re worried that a child or young person you know is not safe or being cared for, or you know a child who has been separated from their parents or caregivers, you can phone Oranga Tamariki on 0508 326 459 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or email

Last modified: