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Labour ECE investment promise welcomed

Monday 27 January 2014

Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association (NZCA) welcomed Labour’s pledge today to make early childhood education (ECE) front and centre of its education policy.

Nancy Bell, NZCA Chief Executive, said that Labour’s plans addressed two issues of vital importance to the ECE sector, quality and access.

“Labour leader David Cunliffe said that his government would restore ECE funding cuts made by National,” Nancy Bell said. “We take this to mean returning funding for 100% qualified teachers in ECE centres. This would be a great step forward in raising quality in ECE in New Zealand across the board.”

Ms Bell said that in recent years, since the funding cuts were initiated in 2010, there had been a gradual erosion in the ability of services to invest in quality, and that meant centres having to lose qualified staff, increase ratios or forgo professional development.

Labour’s promise to extend the number of ‘free’ hours from 20 to 25 for children over the age of three would be welcomed by parents. It is to be hoped that this does not have any unintended consequences, such as reducing the number of places available. This would need working through to make sure all children genuinely do have access to ECE.

Ms Bell said that increasing paid parental leave to 26 weeks would enable more babies to get the best start in life.

While the promises made were highly positive, the Association was concerned that no attention had been made to the quality of care for under-2s in ECE. Ms Bell said that over a year ago a Ministry of Education working group had recommended higher levels of qualified teachers for this vulnerable age-group.

“We would like to see funding committed to improved regulated standards for under-2s in ECE to help to close the quality gap for this age group.”

ENDS

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