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The Socialist Road to Free Childcare

The Socialist Road to Free Childcare

"The announcement of 'Free Early Childhood Education' is a great sound bite and has instant political appeal, but parents (and Consumer Affairs) should have a close look at the fine print here" warns Sue Thorne, CEO of the Early Childhood Council.

"In order to be eligible for the extra new fee subsidy of approximately $100pw in 2007, most working parents will have to take their children out of their preschool of choice and place them in centres which are run by committees."

"The majority of all day preschools which cater for working parents, are owned and operated by private enterprise. This clearly upsets the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, whose socialist fingerprints are all over this initiative. His plan seems to be to close them down or make them uncompetitive, by making their fees higher and reducing their ability to pay the best staff."

"It is hard to believe that Mallard is in the same Cabinet as Steve Maharey, who has spent his taxpayer investment more effectively by not differentiating between the types of providers. All qualifying working parents win from Maharey's initiative, irrespective of their choice of preschool. Mallard on the other hand appears to be following his own red brick road."

"Committee run centres currently charge a range of fees for 20 hours ($40-$140) to meet their local costs. Under the government's free early childhood education initiative they will all be forced into the same average national rate for 20 hours. There will however be no limit on fees for the remaining 30 hours per week and no requirement to lower weekly fees by the value of the new extra subsidy. Parents could end up receiving no reduction in their full time childcare fees. "

"ECC considers the substantially increased subsidy for childcare is positive and a good taxpayer investment that has been spoilt by Mallard's fixation to hobble or close down the very type of preschools that have been the most successful and innovative and which the majority of New Zealand working parents choose."

The Early Childhood Council represents 850 community owned and private enterprise early childhood centres throughout New Zealand.

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