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Use of childcare by Māori and Pacific children takes off

Use of childcare by Māori and Pacific children takes off

1 March 2018

Over the past eight years there has been a large increase in the number of Māori and Pacific preschool children using formal childcare, Stats NZ said today.

“In 2017, about two in three Māori preschool children attended some form of early childhood education – about the same level as European children,” labour markets and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “This is quite an increase from 2009, when just one in two Māori children attended early childhood education, and reflects the range of programmes focussed on increasing Māori and Pacific participation in early childhood education.”

In 2009, 31 percent of Pacific preschool children were enrolled in formal care, which grew to 53 percent in 2017, similar to Asian participation (54 percent).

The Childcare in New Zealand Survey, a supplement to the Household Labour Force Survey in the September 2017 quarter, asked parents of children 13 years and younger about their children’s care arrangements. Early childhood education (also called formal care) includes a range of teacher-led centres, such as kindergartens and Kōhanga Reo, through to playgroups and home-based care.

While a higher proportion of European children attended early childhood education, on average they spent less time per week there (a median of 21 hours) compared with Māori and Asian children (25 hours) and Pacific children (24 hours).

Kōhanga Reo and Pacific Islands Early Childhood Centres

Pacific Island Early Childhood Centres have been growing in popularity over recent years, with 2.2 percent of preschool children (4,400 children) attending in 2017, compared with 1.1 percent in 2009.

There were 6,600 children enrolled in Kōhanga Reo in 2017, which was fewer than in 2009. While every child attending a Kōhanga Reo identified as being of Māori ethnicity, only 59 percent of those attending Pacific Island Early Childhood Centres were of Pacific ethnicity.

Children in Kōhanga Reo and Pacific Islands Early Childhood Centres spent more hours in care, recording a median of 30 hours of attendance a week. These were the highest median weekly hours recorded by care type. Median weekly hours were 26 hours for ‘other childcare centres’, 20 hours for kindergartens, 18 hours and 45 minutes for home-based care, eight hours for playcentres, and three hours for playgroups.

Subsidy use

The government provides the Childcare Subsidy for low- to middle-income families to utilise formal preschool childcare. This subsidy was used by 32 percent of Pacific, 27 percent of Māori, 17 percent of Asian, and 15 percent of European preschool children in formal care.

The government also provides 20 hours of free childcare (20 Hours ECE) for all three- and four-year-old children in approved formal childcare centres. Children of European ethnicity were most likely to use the 20 Hours ECE while enrolled in formal care, with 94 percent of all European three- and four–year-old children claiming some of the free hours, followed by Asian (89 percent), Māori (83 percent), and Pacific children (80 percent).

For more information about these statistics:

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