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 enrolled and attending school up to the age of 13 (or children aged up to 18 years if they are eligible to receive a Child Disability Allowance).

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.

There are providers that operate without SSA accreditation, MSD is unable to provide any assurances 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 programmes policies, procedures & 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 4 weeks a year, with at least 1 of those weeks in each school holiday period.

Note: SSA will not accredit OSCAR programmes that run during weekends and do not operate 5 days a 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 to the assessment decision.

First you should make sure:

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

Next you will need to send an application form and specified documents to Social Services Accreditation.

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
  • through a site visit.

First 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 (eg Warrant of Fitness).

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

If your programme has not started operating yet, the assessor will review the documents you provide showing how the programme will run to determine if your organisation has the potential and ability to run a safe programme and meet all the standards. 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 (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 and OSCAR programme and would like to be eligible to receive grant funding, your programme must be MSD Accredited.

Please note: Attaining MSD Accreditation does not confer the right to a contract or the funding of a programme.

Accreditation and funding an OSCAR programme are separate functions within the Ministry. To find out more about OSCAR grant funding including eligibility criteria and how to apply, please see:

Or 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.

Where it has been assessed that their policies, procedures and programme site meet the requirements a conditional accreditation will be granted. This 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, review the staff files and confirm if a full accreditation can be granted.

Exemptions for operating a sole-charge OSCAR programme

Exemptions will only be made to operate an OSCAR programme with one staff member where the programme is able to provide assurance that staff and children's safety will be maintained.

Home-based OSCAR programmes

Reviews of accreditation

When a new provider is first granted accreditation, they will generally be reviewed after 1 year, then move to a 2 year review cycle. after meeting certain criteria they may then be moved to a 3 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 are:

  • 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 Social Services Accreditation team know so that they can keep their records up-to-date and contact Work and Income about subsidies and grants so that you do not incur a debt. You will then relinquish your accreditation.

Suspending and/or revoking accreditation

If an accredited programme is no longer meeting the standards and is not properly run 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 approval 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

SSA accredited OSCAR providers

If you have a complaint or concern about an SSA accredited OSCAR provider, the first step should be 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 help with 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 Services Accreditation Standards, you can contact SSA.

OSCAR providers without accreditation

MSD has no jurisdiction over OSCAR providers without accreditation, so will not be able to progress your complaint or concern.

Providers without accreditation, may have a complaints policy. This may direct 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, council or Citizens Advice Bureau.