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Australia Eyeing up New Zealand Home-Based ECE Model

Australia Eyeing up New Zealand Home-Based ECE Model

Australia could soon follow New Zealand’s popular model of in-home childcare as it undertakes major reforms in its Early Childcare Education (ECE) sector.

New Zealand Home Education Learning Organisation (HELO) president Jenny Yule is fielding strong interest from Australia along with other countries interested in the home-based childcare model.

“Australia is moving ahead of New Zealand with its new childcare reforms that will reduce child to teacher ratios in day care centres.

“We have caught the eye of Australia’s Liberal Member of Parliament Sussan Ley, the Shadow Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, who visited PORSE last year.

Ms Ley was looking at what other countries have been doing as child care is of critical importance to the Australian Federal Opposition,” Ms Yule said.

Ms Ley said she was very impressed with the PORSE model and she is keen to further consider whether this could play a role in Australia, particularly in regard to the under two year olds.

“We have committed to having our Productivity Commission undertake an inquiry into childcare as a whole and home-based care will certainly be considered within this context. However, this could not occur until we are elected to govern,” Ms Ley said.

Ms Yule said HELO’s founding members (PORSE, PAUA, Au Pair Link and Home Grown Kids) believe the return to care and learning in family homes is the wisest way forward for delivering state-funded early childhood care and education for babies and our young children.

“We need our babies to be raised by people who understand and are committed to the importance of working in close relationships with young children and supporting their families.

“When a baby is born, 70 per cent of their brain is yet to develop. In the first three years of life, almost 90 per cent of the brain development left to be done is undertaken.

“Millions of connections between brain cells are formed, all directly in response to the environment around the child and the experiences that occur within relationship with those who care for them.

“Every adult relationship in a child’s life during the first three years plays a critical role in shaping up a blue-print for their lifetime success.

“Children cared for in the home can receive more consistent one-on-one responsive care, helping them to develop meaningful relationships in a family-focused community, supporting emotional growth and learning,” Ms Yule said.

But Ms Yule said New Zealand could also learn a lot from Australia’s new reforms.

“Here in New Zealand there is real concern about the ‘factory style’ approach to Early Childhood Education. For the past 27 years we have increased our numbers of children in day care to up to 150 for a single centre, however the ratio of care has remained the same at only one adult to five children aged under two years,” she said.

The ratio with home-based childcare is one adult to two children under the age of two years and the ideal group size of four children under five years supports social skills, co-operative play and learning.

“While home-based is the fastest growing ECE sector for children, we still only represent 9 per cent of the industry, with more children being enrolled from birth at out of home, day care services.

“HELO is committed to raising awareness about the benefits of quality home-based care and education, a sector of ECE that is often marginalised by group-based childcare advocates, at the expense of not having our babies and young children educated in home learning environments,” Ms Yule said.

It is a shocking fact that there are 25,000 children diagnosed in New Zealand with behavioural and emotional problems, with anxiety, the fastest growing condition, according to the Ministry of Health's latest children's health report.
Ms Yule backs up what the experts believe is the cause of the increasing rates of anxiety – and supports the government review to examine the benefits of home-based ECE to which she says will reduce stress levels for young children and families, and help re-build neighbourhood communities of learning.

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