Playcentres are parent cooperatives. The families/whānau of children attending are responsible for how the centres are managed and operated. Parents become members of their playcentre and most pay low fees to attend. Generally playcentres are chartered and licensed although some may operate as parent-led playgroups.

The regional playcentre association, which belongs to the New Zealand Playcentre Federation, supports local centres through provision of administration and parent education services.In general, parents/whānau are responsible for running the sessions, and are expected to participate regularly with their child. Sometimes there is also a trained supervisor.

As well as providing early childhood programmes for children, playcentres provide educational programmes for parents/whānau to learn alongside their children. These programmes increase parents’ understanding of how children learn and develop, and can lead to playcentre and early childhood qualifications.