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Budget Misses Opportunity To Support Parents

Friday 28 May, 2004

Budget Misses Opportunity To Support Parents

The Government’s just-released budget has missed a major opportunity to support a nation-wide community parenting initiative, according to the Playcentre Federation.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation is the umbrella for 519 Playcentres located in communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. The Playcentre movement was founded 60 years ago, based on family co-operative early childhood education. Its work focuses mainly on supporting parents as first teachers of their children. Most Centres are fully licensed as early childhood centres.

Playcentre attracts a lot of international interest because of its practical approach based on sound understanding of child development, and it has sparked similar initiatives overseas.

The National President of the Playcentre Federation, Vicky Johnston of West Auckland, acknowledges that the budget contains many boosts for families.

However, sections of the budget that apply to early childhood education appear to be carefully worded to exclude Playcentre.

Ms Johnston says the Government, despite saying that it wants to support parents and values volunteers, is overlooking one of the most important voluntary and parent support organisations in this country.

In fact, she says that many aspects of the budget could be interpreted as continuing a push to get parents into the workforce, and to get children, including very young children, into institutionalised daycare.

“The Government is ignoring a lot of research that shows the value of the Playcentre approach,” says Vicky Johnston. “We provide support and excellent training in child development as an integral part of what we do. By working closely with families of young children, we offer early intervention for families where there are risks. We empower parents. This service does not deserve to be snubbed by the Government.”


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