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More children to access early childhood education

10 December 2003 Media Statement

More children to access early childhood education

Funding of $8 million will create an extra 1236 new places for children in licensed and chartered early childhood education centres over the next year, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"This funding is a significant way to increase participation in quality early childhood services, especially amongst children from low socio-economic, rural, isolated, Mäori or Pasifika communities," Trevor Mallard said.

"As part of the annual Discretionary Grants Scheme (DGS) 72 community-based non-profit early childhood services will receive this funding to establish new early childhood education centres, extend existing buildings or remove health and safety hazards.”

Trevor Mallard said the 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education, Pathways to the Future: Nga Huarahi Arataki, showed the government’s strong commitment to have all New Zealand children participating in quality early childhood education.

"We know that quality early childhood education makes a significant difference to the way children develop and achieve later in their lives.

"Research also shows access to quality early childhood education has the greatest benefits for children who are the least likely to participate, including those from low socio-economic, rural, Mäori or Pasifika communities.

"The discretionary grants scheme is particularly targeted to increasing participation amongst these groups.”

“Throughout New Zealand communities are working hard to raise the funds required for projects to enable their children to participate in quality early childhood education.

"I congratulate these communities for their work and dedication and believe the discretionary grants scheme is a major way government can provide assistance particularly for those communities who find fund-raising difficult."

Trevor Mallard said the scheme is divided into three pools: Mäori, Pasifka and General.
- Mäori Pool - a total of 19 grants were made creating 497 new places in kohanga, immersion and bilingual services
- Pasifika Pool - funding allocated to 12 Pasifika groups to establish licensed and chartered early childhood education centres will cater for approximately 120 children
- General Pool, 27 grants have been allocated providing 619 new child places.

"Together these grants assist us to meet the needs of New Zealand children and their families in a range of early childhood education services.

"On top of this 15 grants have been allocated to remove health and safety concerns in existing services which could put the health of children attending at risk."

Q&A Follows

DISCRETIONARY GRANTS SCHEME
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What is the Discretionary Grants Scheme?
The Discretionary Grants Scheme is an annual scheme designed to increase participation in quality early childhood services by providing capital assistance to:
- increase the number of places in existing early childhood centres;
- establish new licensed and chartered early childhood centres;
- remove serious health and safety hazards in existing early childhood centres;
- improve participation of Maori, Pasifika, low income & rural communities;
- be responsive to the needs of working parents

The government recognises the importance of quality early childhood education for the current and future development of children. Studies have also shown that children who benefit most from quality early childhood education are those who are least likely to participate, namely, Maori, Pasifika, low socio-economic, rural and isolated communities. The scheme is particularly targeted to these groups.

The Discretionary Grants Scheme is split into three pools: General, Maori and Pasifika. Centres may apply for a Capital grant for the actual physical costs of the building or for a Planning grant to cover the non-capital costs of planning for construction (this may include resource consent and architects’ fees).

Who is eligible to apply?
All community based, not for profit early childhood education centres are eligible to apply.

Centres applying for a Capital or Planning grant must be increasing the number of child places – either by the creation of a new building or by the extension of an existing building which allows for an increase in child play space and therefore an increase in licensed numbers. A centre may also apply to have serious health and safety concerns removed. This includes factors such as lead paint and asbestos, which may put the health of the children and the service’s license at risk.

What are the different criteria of the three pools?
The Pasifika Pool is available to fund groups who are most ready to plan for or to proceed towards becoming licensed and chartered.

The Maori Pool is available to centres aiming to increase Maori Participation and is split into two categories. Category A is for Te Reo Maori immersion services and Category B is for services which are not necessarily immersion but cater for areas of low Maori participation and for low socio-economic communities.

The General Pool also has two categories: Category A is for increasing child places and Category B is for removing health and safety hazards. Whilst community based centres of any ethnicity may apply to the General pool, the assistance is still targeted to Maori, Pasifika, low socio-economic, rural and isolated.

How are successful centres selected?
Applications for the General pool are discussed at a regional level with representatives from the Ministry and the sector. These are then prioritised in accordance with the intent of the DGS policy and the top prioritisations are forwarded to a national allocation meeting where they are prioritised again.

Applications in the Maori and Pasifika pools are discussed at a national level and prioritised based on the intent of the DGS policy.

How much funding is available?
In the 2003/2004 financial year, $8.835million dollars was available across the three pools.

The breakdown is as follows:
Pasifika $2.75 million
Maori $2.4 million
General $3.65 million


Why may centres have been unsuccessful in their grant application?
The Discretionary Grants Scheme is a limited pool of funding. As always, this year saw many more applications than funds available.

At the allocation meetings, all centres were prioritised based on how comprehensively they meet the DGS policy criteria of increasing participation of Maori, Pasifika, low socio-economic and rural, isolated and groups and how responsive they were to the needs of working families. Consideration is also given to local information such as participation rates, population growth and the availability of or capacity in existing centres.

Those centres that were successful in their application for funding were the centres that best met the above criteria.

Where can people find out further information?
Information on the Discretionary Grants Scheme can be found on the Ministry website. Early childhood education services and community-based groups can also contact their local office of the Ministry of Education for information.
www.minedu.govt.nz

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