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Survey: Labour's 20 Hours Free is costing parents

Anne Tolley MP National Party Education Spokeswoman & Paula Bennett MP National Party Associate Education (Early Childhood) Spokeswoman

26 August 2008

Survey: Labour's 20 Hours Free is costing parents

National's assertion that Labour's 20 Hours Free ECE policy is a fraud has been proven true today with the release of a survey showing almost half of the centres taking it up are charging parents for the privilege.

The survey, by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), validates National's policy of removing the 'free' from the initiative and simply calling it 20 Hours ECE.

National's Education spokeswoman, Anne Tolley, says: "The 'free' part of Labour's policy has always been misleading. National changed the name because it wants to be honest with parents".

The survey says: 'Forty-six percent of education and care centres, two of 10 home-based schemes, and 18 percent of kindergartens asked for optional charges. Many charged for excursions. Education and care centres were also likely to charge for additional staffing (above regulated ratios) and resources.'

Paula Bennett says: "Despite Labour's rhetoric, this scheme has never been free. National is not only injecting honesty into the scheme, it is expanding it and enhancing it.

"We will make it more available to children by allowing kohanga reo and playcentres to take the scheme up.

"We will make it more flexible by removing the 6-hours-a-day limit, allow five-year-olds to be eligible, and investigate more frequent payment methods.

"And we will do all this without removing existing subsidies and fee controls.

"Labour has been dishonest and inflexible over early childhood education.

"We intend to put that right."

ENDS

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