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National forgoes quality in early childhood ed.

7 July 2005

Media Statement

National forgoes quality in early childhood education

The Labour-led government will not resile from our commitment to give affordable and high quality early childhood education to every New Zealand child - unlike National whose tax rebates will lead to more low quality and untrained staff looking after our under-fives, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"Under National, thousands of families and their children will miss out entirely, whereas Labour is helping every New Zealand family. Using National's own examples, many families will be up to $5000 better off under Labour because of our 20 hours free policy.

"Under National, people will only get a rebate once a year, and only if they remember to keep their receipts and go to the effort of filing a tax return, which they normally would not have to do. Under Labour parents will receive the benefits every single week.

"Labour wants taxpayers funding to go towards providing good quality early childhood education, we don't want it going to the IRD to pay for running a complicated tax deduction system, and we don't want it going to low quality and unlicensed providers.

"We do support all forms of early childhood education and childcare, and have extended the childcare subsidy to 40 per cent more kids including those in home-based care.

"The difference between National and Labour is that Labour also believes that every child needs quality education at this age as well. National is only interested a tax bribe for working parents, rather than helping children learn.

"All of the evidence shows that high quality early childhood education makes a real difference to kids going forward, and gives them a solid start for doing well in education later on.

"Putting kids in suburban backyards with ten other children and without qualified and trained teachers - as National plans will do - is a great leap backwards in terms of early childhood education in New Zealand. It will destroy all the gains we are making and it will threaten iconic services like kindergartens.

"National's approach will make children vulnerable to abuse and poor quality care in unlicensed and unregulated situations and it will result in the sort of poor educational outcomes that New Zealanders have rejected for years.

"While the Labour-led government focuses its investment on driving up the quality of the early childhood education that families receive, all National can talk about is a babysitting style of childcare. This will not sway parents.

"Brash cold-heartedly ignores the kids who should rightly be at the centre of any political party's policy on early childhood education," Trevor Mallard said.

"National should also come clean on how they intend funding their tax rebates. We suspect Brash intends also scrapping the funding we are providing to build new centres and expand existing ones to get more kids accessing good quality early childhood education. "

Funding for Early Childhood Education will increase by $152 million over the next 4 years – including free provision for 3 and 4 yr olds from 2007 and the expansion of early childhood services where there are shortages.

Childcare Assistance changes in the Budget and Working for Families mean 40 percent more children receive subsidised care than same time last year, with further increases in October this year

By October 2006 70 percent of all families with children will be eligible for extra assistance towards the costs of childcare.

ENDS

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