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20-hours-free policy will raise costs

Hon Tau Henare National Party Associate Education Spokesman

26 January 2006

20-hours-free policy will raise costs, reduce quality

National's Associate Education spokesman, Tau Henare says a report into early childhood education confirms what National has been saying for months - Labour's 20-hours-free policy is racked with problems and will not reach those most in need.

The NZIER report finds that the policy will:

- Reduce the quality of some childcare services.

- See most of the additional funding serve as a 'hand-out to middle class families whose children do not need the extra hand-up'.

- Encourage some centres, which are currently free, to charge 'donations' to top up Government funding.

Mr Henare, who has responsibility for early childhood education, says the scathing report concludes that the policy should be abandoned.

"Officials, parents and the National Party have all warned that this ideologically-driven policy will have dire consequences. Hopefully this report will lead to a re-think.

"Already many kindergartens have had to start charging fees to cover costs. This will see many of the kids who would benefit most from early childhood education miss out because their parents can't afford to pay.

"What families really want is the ability to access high quality early childhood education for their kids, regardless of their income, location or hours of work. Labour's policy simply will not deliver and is yet another triumph of spin over substance," says Mr Henare.

ENDS

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