Children playing, OSCAR promotion

Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) programmes


The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) providers deliver before school care, after school care, holiday programmes, and camps for children up to the age of 13 (or children aged up to 18 years if they are eligible to receive a Child Disability Allowance), who are enrolled and attending school.

MSD uses the Social Services Accreditation (SSA) process to ensure that OSCAR programmes are appropriately managed and provide a safe and adequate care environment. This is completed through regular assessments against the Social Sector Accreditation Standards. An accredited provider will have a current letter or certificate of accreditation.

For providers that operate without government accreditation, MSD is unable to provide any assurance for the services these providers deliver. Providers that operate without accreditation will not be able to apply for OSCAR grant funding or receive OSCAR subsidies through Work and Income.

When a parent or caregiver is selecting an OSCAR provider, SSA recommends choosing an accredited provider and visiting the programme in operation to make sure the programme's policies, procedures and daily routines are suitable.

Conditions for accreditation

For an application for OSCAR accreditation to be considered, the programmes need to meet the following conditions:

Site/venue The programme(s) need to operate from one site - as Accreditation is site/venue specific.

Hours of operation

Before school: 6.30am-9am

After school: 2.30pm-7pm

Holiday programmes*: 6.30am-7pm

(Programmes need to operate within these hours)
Fees The programme(s) must get income from parent/caregiver fees or contribution.

*Holiday programmes must be run for at least four weeks per year, with at least one of those weeks in each school holiday period.

Note: SSA will not accredit OSCAR programmes that run during weekends and do not operate five days per week.

Accreditation for after school care programmes will only be given to providers that deliver care for children from the time schools in their community finish. Accreditation will not be given to clubs that start at a later time, or do not operate every day from the same venue. An after school care programme must operate for a minimum of two hours each afternoon.

Some OSCAR programmes operate camps or overnight stays outside of the above-mentioned hours. When this occurs, the Outdoor Pursuits and Camp Programmes for Children and Young People specialist standard will be applied.

The accreditation process

This section gives an overview of the accreditation process from when you first decide to apply, through to the assessment decision.

You should first make sure that:

  • your programme is able to operate in a way that meets all the standards
  • policies and procedures described in the standards are in place.

Following the above, you will need to send an application form and specified documents to the Social Services Accreditation team.

An assessor will go through your application and set up a visit. You can expect to have your site visit within six weeks of applying.

If your programme is already up and running, you will need to demonstrate that your programme meets the standards through:

  • your written policies and procedures and other organisation or programme documents
  • a site visit.

The assessor will review your application, including the documents you provided. Then the assessor will do a site visit, where they will talk to staff and observe how the programme runs. They will also look at facilities, equipment and other important documents (for example, Warrant of Fitness).

The assessor will give you feedback at the time of the site visit. If you have to improve your programme, the assessor will talk to you about this and follow up with a letter. The letter will outline the changes required and timeframes for getting back to the assessor about these changes.

If your programme has not started operating yet, to determine if your organisation has the potential to run a safe programme and meet all the standards, the assessor will review the documents you provide which show how the programme will run. The assessor will do a site visit and talk to any available staff.

When your programme is accredited you will receive a letter confirming the accreditation. This is usually within four weeks of the site visit.

If you are a sole trader, you can complete the CVCheck process. For more information on CVCheck please follow the link below:

OSCAR subsidy

If accreditation is granted parents/caregivers are able to apply for subsidies.

OSCAR grant funding

If you run an OSCAR programme and would like to be eligible to receive grant funding, your programme must be government Accredited.

Please note: Attaining accreditation does not guarantee a contract or the funding of a programme.

Accreditation and funding an OSCAR programme are separate functions. To find out more about OSCAR grant fundingincluding eligibility criteria and how to applyplease see:

Alternatively, contact the Work and Income OSCAR team:

Conditional accreditation

A number of providers seek accreditation before they employ staff and establish the running of their programme. In this case, if policies, procedures and the programme site meet accreditation requirements, conditional accreditation will be granted.

Conditional accreditation will remain in place for up to three months, to allow the provider time to start running the programme. The assessor will then observe the programme in action, review the staff files and confirm if accreditation can be granted.

Exemptions for operating a sole-charge OSCAR programme

Exemptions will only be made to operate a sole-charge OSCAR programme if the provider is able to provide assurance that staff and children's safety will be maintained.

Home-based OSCAR programmes

Accreditation review

When a new provider is granted accreditation, they will generally be reviewed after one year, then move to a two-year review cycle. After meeting certain criteria, an OSCAR provider may then be moved to a three-year review cycle.

At any time, SSA can reconsider a provider’s review cycle.

Some “higher risk” programmes will remain on a two-year cycle. These include:

  • Camps.
  • Outdoor pursuits programmes.
  • Providers with outstanding remedials or requirements.

Ceasing to operate an OSCAR programme

You may decide that you don’t want to keep providing your OSCAR programme. If so, let the Social Services Accreditation team know so that they can keep their records up-to-date and contact Work and Income about subsidies and grantsso that you do not incur a debt. Your accreditation will then be relinquished.

Suspending and/or revoking accreditation

If an accredited programme is no longer meeting the standards and is not being run properly, your accreditation may be suspended and/or revoked, under Regulation 46 of the Social Security Regulations 2018.

If serious concerns arise that the standards are not being met and the programme is not adequate, your accreditation may be suspended while these concerns are being investigated. The existence of ongoing concerns could result in your accreditation being revoked.

The programme provider is able to make submissions to Social Services Accreditation before a final decision is made. The final decision would then be given in writing.

The provider may be able to apply at a later date for accreditation when appropriate changes have been made.

Complaints or concerns about an OSCAR provider

Government accredited OSCAR providers

If you have a complaint or concern about an accredited OSCAR provider, the first step should be to raise it with the provider directly.

An accredited programme will have a current letter or certificate of accreditation and will have a complaints policy available to view. This complaints policy will tell you who you can speak to and the process the provider will follow.

If you feel your complaint/concern to an accredited OSCAR provider has not been adequately resolved and is a breach of the Social Sector Accreditation Standards, you can contact SSA.

OSCAR providers without accreditation

MSD has no jurisdiction over OSCAR providers that are not accredited, so will not be able to progress your complaint or concern.

Providers without accreditation may still have a complaints policy that directs you on where you can go if you do not feel your complaint or concern has been adequately resolved.

If the provider does not have a complaints policy, depending on the nature of your concern you may be able to take your concern to the New Zealand Police; Oranga Tamariki; local school or council; or the Citizens Advice Bureau.