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Children safer in early childhood centres than many homes

Children safer in early childhood centres than in many home

The Early Childhood Council said today (26 February 2013) that the Home Education Foundation (HEF) was ‘talking nonsense’ when it argued that early childhood centres were unsafe for children.

The comment referred the HEF news release: ‘Accidents, escapes plague early childhood centres’.

Council CEO Peter Reynolds said HEF was ‘attempting to manipulate parental fear’ in order to attack the Government’s intention to compel some beneficiaries to put their children into early childhood education.

Mr Reynolds said the overwhelming majority of those who ran New Zealand’s childcare centres were ‘absolutely focussed on safety’. And HEF was misusing statistics that revealed 1328 accidents in ECE centres in 2012.

‘What HEF does not disclose is that its 1328 accidents include those that happened in parent-run Playcentres. They include accidents that did not happen in early childhood centres, but on the way to and from early childhood centres. And the average cost per accident was less than $120.

Any accident was concerning, Mr Reynolds said. But the $120 average meant that injuries in ECE centres were overwhelmingly minor – ‘the inevitable bumps and bruises of childhood’, and ‘part of a process called growing up’.
ACC statistics did not suggest early childhood centres were unsafe, Mr Reynolds said. They suggested the opposite. ‘That centres are, in fact, safer than many homes.’

ACC’s ‘injury statistics tool’ revealed 58,339 new claims for injuries to 0 to 4 year olds in the home in the July 2011-June 2012 year, and 79,446 in all locations, he said.

‘And 58,339 recorded accidents in homes per year is many more than the 1328 HEF claim as happening in centres.’

Mr Reynolds said: ‘If HEF is prepared to use the 1328 number to argue that early childhood centres are unsafe, what, we wonder, does it make of the 58,339 recorded accidents that ocurred concurrently in homes?’

All childcare centres had to comply with health and safety standards before they were allowed to open, and were subsequently assessed regularly by the Education Review Office, Mr Reynolds said. And it was unaccepatable ‘for an interest group to use statistics that mislead, and to do so in order to deploy parental fear for as a political tool’.

The Early Childhood Council has more than 1000 member centres, about 30% of which are community-owned and about 70% of which are commercially owned. Its members employ more than 7000 staff, and care for tens of thousands of children.


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