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New Minister should clarify answers

Paula Bennett MP
National Party Associate Education (Early Education) Spokeswoman

9 November 2007

New Minister should clarify answers

National Party Associate Education spokeswoman Paula Bennett says Chris Carter is dissembling.

"Only a couple of days into the job and he is trying to back away from Labour's unpopular policy to close Sunday schools and other child minding services, like crèches at gyms.

"If the brand new Education Minister has changed Labour's policy on regulating all child minding services, he should make that position clear. According to official answers, Sunday Schools are in the gun."

Ms Bennett is referring to media comments by the new Education Minister where he confirms that 'the Education Act requires that early childhood centres, for the education of three or more children under six years of age, must either be licensed or be premises of a kind exempt from licensing'.

"National has always recognised the difference between child minding and early education. Mr Carter obviously can't tell the difference.

"What he might not know, is that I have asked multiple questions about this issue, and every one of the answers has been consistent. Labour says if a complaint is received about unlicensed baby sitting they will act.

"Labour's instinct to regulate has been laid bare in the way they are planning to enforce these regulations. According to Mr Carter and Labour one size fits all.

"Responsible parents understand the difference between child minding, Sunday Schools, the crèche at the local gym, and early childhood education.

"Mr Carter's latest statement on this issue suggests he does not."

Ends

Parliamentary Questions – Sunday Schools

Question: Are there any plans to force Sunday schools and church childminding facilities to close unless they become licensed early childhood centres under the Education Act 1989?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: The Ministry of Education will work with any group in breach of the legislation, that is brought to its attention, to ensure that they are aware of the requirements and their options to either license, operate as a licence-exempt playgroup, or cease operating.

Attachment: None

Question: Will the Ministry of Education be writing to sunday schools and church childminding facilities advising them that they might be closed down because they may be providing childminding facilities without being licensed to do so?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: The Ministry of Education will work with any group in breach of the legislation, that is brought to its attention, to ensure that they are aware of the requirements and their options to either license, operate as a licence-exempt playgroup, or cease operating.

Attachment: None

Question: What do sunday schools and church childminding facilities need to do to become licensed or be exempt from licensing under the Education Act 1989?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: Groups meeting the definition of an Early Childhood centre in the Education Act 1989 need to apply for a licence and comply with the provisions of the Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998, unless they are exempt as playgroups or under other provisions of the Act.

Attachment: None

Question: Further to QWA 16854 (2007) when is the new criteria actually going to be in place and in the mean time will letters concerning licensing continue to be sent out?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: Cabinet has agreed to the new regulatory framework for ECE services being implemented from 2008. Until that time, the Ministry will continue to administer the provisions of the current regulatory framework.

Attachment: None

Question: Under what circumstances would a sunday school or church childminding facility be advised to close?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: Where the Ministry of Education is made aware that one is operating according to the definition of an Early Childhood centre but do not wish to be licensed, or do not meet licence-exempt playgroup requirements.

Attachment: None

Question: What criteria does a sunday school or church childminding facility have to comply with?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: Sunday schools or church childminding facilities meeting the definition of an Early Childhood centre in the Education Act 1989 must comply with the provisions of the Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998. Those not meeting this definition do not have to comply with any education legislation.

Attachment: None

Question: Will the Ministry of Education only be writing to childminding facilities in gyms, swimming pools, sunday schools and churches that it has received a complaint about and will the Ministry turn a blind eye to the rest even if they may be operating outside the regulations of the Education Act 1989?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: If it comes to the Ministry of Education's attention that any group is operating outside the provisions of the Education Act 1989, appropriate actions will be taken to ensure the group is aware of the Regulations and all of their options.

Attachment: None

Question: Has the Ministry of Education offered to any childminding facilities in gyms, swimming pools, sunday schools and churches that they may operate for 4 hours a week; how has this offer been made and does it cover all centres?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: This provision of the Education Amendment Act 2006 is not yet in force. No offer has been made.

Attachment: None

Question: Further to the answer to question for written answer 16854 (2007). Has the Ministry of Education contacted any sunday schools or church childminding facilities to discuss the review, if so what are the names of the sunday schools and church childminding facilities that it has contacted?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: No. However there has been public consultation regarding the review in which all groups are able to participate.

Attachment: None

Question: How many sunday schools and church childminding facilities have closed down in the last 12 months due to not meeting the criteria for exemption from the requirement to be licensed as an early childhood centre, and what are their names?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: None that the Ministry of Education has had contact with.

Attachment: None

Question: How many sunday schools and church childminding facilities are currently exempt from the requirement to be licensed as an early childhood centre?

Portfolio: Education Minister: Hon Steve Maharey Date Lodged:10/10/2007

Answer Text: None. The only services exempt from licensing are those meeting the gazetted requirements to operate as playgroups. Attachment: None

ENDS


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