Our children can celebrate victories in Budget 2014
"Our children can celebrate victories in Budget 2014," leading home-based ECE provider says
Footsteps, the leading home-based early childhood education provider, applauds the focus on children and families evident in last week’s Budget 2014 announcements.
“There are several victories for our children that we can celebrate, and I congratulate the government on recognising that we need to prioritise the wellbeing and development of our young New Zealanders,” says Kevin Christie, the CEO and founder of Footsteps.
“In my view, children should become an asset, not a liability. By investing in a solid platform for learning, growth, health and stability for our children, we are also investing in our economy by reducing the need for rehabilitation services in the future. Eighty percent of a child’s brain is fully developed before they reach school age, so it is only logical that we prioritise early childhood education.”
Finance Minister Bill English announced that the National-led government has earmarked a new allocation of $156 million for early childhood education, around one-third of which will be used to subsidise fees, in a bid to reach a target of 98% engagement of children.
Footsteps serves more than 1,000 children nationwide through its home-based Learn Programme. Around 60% of the organisation’s referrals come from CYF or other government agencies. Demand for Footsteps’ services has grown significantly (enrolments have quadrupled over the last five years), indicating the extent of the need for its services.
Kevin says, “New Zealand is a country with a happy exterior, with misery and impoverishment hidden behind the doors of family homes. For many children outside the Footsteps whānau, safety and education take a back seat. We need to bring about a societal change to raise awareness of what a child really needs. Therefore we also applaud the $33m dedicated in the budget for vulnerable children. It's not just about the education it's about the quality of education.
“The question is, now that we’ve ticked the right box by allocating additional funding, how will this investment in children and families really affect the bottom line? How will the extra $500 million support package for families prevent abuse and neglect, and drive quality education?”