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Minister Praised by Early Childhood Sector

Education Minister Praised by Early Childhood Sector

The Early Childhood Council (ECC) has thanked Minister of Education Steve Maharey for extending the deadline for early childhood centres to achieve 50 per cent qualified staff.

The deadline has been extended from January 2007 to 31 December 2007.

ECC Chief Executive Sue Thorne said today's announcement was 'the result of this Minister being prepared to listen to those actually working with the children'.

Said Mrs Thorne: 'We met with the Minister last month. We explained that many centres were having difficulty achieving the Government's qualification deadlines. His rapid response will be warmly greeted by childcare centres throughout the country.'

Mrs Thorne said many centres were having great difficulty finding the qualified staff necessary to meet Government requirements. Some were unable to expand services as a result and many were in the alarming position of being simply unable to achieve the 50 per cent target by January, she said.

'The extension of time will significantly ease these pressures and make it easier for centres to maintain and expand services.'

The decision would be especially warmly greeted in regions such as Auckland where pressures from staff shortages were greatest, she said.

Mrs Thorne said that from the point of view of those working in the early childhood sector today's announcement was 'a ray of hope we might at last have a Minister prepared to listen when those struggling to meet Government requirements explain that some of those requirements, whilst attractive in theory, are not working on the ground'.

The Government aims to achieve 50 per cent qualified staff by 31 December 2007, 80 per cent by 2010 and 100 per cent by 2012. These deadlines apply to centre-based early childhood services – excluding Playcentres, sessional Kindergartens and Kohanga Reo.

The Early Childhood Council is the largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand. Its nearly 1000 member centres are both community-owned and commercially-owned, employ more than 7000 staff, and care for more than 50,000 children.

ENDS

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