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Funding increases for early childhood education

17 May 2007

Media Release

Budget funding increases for early childhood education support free 20 hours

The announcement of funding increases for early childhood education this afternoon supports free 20 hours and should encourage more centres to opt in as July 1 approaches.

"The new rates announced in today's budget will provide further encouragement for early childhood centres to sign up for free 20 hours," said Nancy Bell, Chief Executive, New Zealand Childcare Association.

For many undecided centres, this increase will help to balance the books meaning that more children benefit from access to free ECE services.

Rates for 'free ECE' in all day services increased between .26 to .29 cents per hour, a 3% average increase.

Rates for other hours lifted also between .6 cents to $1-10 an hour. Most significant increases were for children under 2, especially when their centres employed higher numbers of qualified staff.

"Our recent member poll showed 61% taking up free 20 hours and 32% undecided. These changes are likely to increase the take up rate and will mean that some centres will feel a little less pressure to consider optional charges and fundraising," said Nancy.

"Our members expected and will be reassured to see ongoing government commitment to improving quality as well as access to ECE services. In particular the rates increases for children under 2 years will be welcomed as this is a costly area of provision," said Nancy.

However, the new rates will not assuage the concerns of all members some of whom will still need to consider alternative income sources if they are to offer 20 free hours.

Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association has over 1000 members in early childhood education centres throughout New Zealand.

ENDS

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