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Early childhood education: $172.5m extra

Hon Hekia Parata
Minister of Education

16 May 2013

Early childhood education: $172.5m extra

Budget 2013 will deliver $172.5 million over four years in new operating investment for early childhood education, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.

The Government’s total investment in early childhood education in 2013/14 will be $1.5 billion, up from $860 million in 2007/08.

The $172.5 million includes $56.5 million in contingencies, to be drawn down as required.

“We know that regular participation in quality early childhood learning significantly increases a child’s chance of future educational success, particularly for children from vulnerable families.

“That’s why we have set a Better Public Service Target that in 2016, 98 per cent of all school entrants will have participated in quality early childhood education (ECE).’’

Provisional figures for the year to 31 March 2013 show around 95.5 per cent of children who started school this year had participated in early childhood education. That is up from 94.7 per cent at the same time last year.

“We are investing $24 million operating funding over four years, and providing a further $56.5 million in contingency, to help us achieve that 98 per cent target,” Ms Parata says.

“That money will be used to pay for the extra cost of ECE funding subsidies resulting from additional children participating in ECE. We are also providing support to our vulnerable communities, recognising that some families need more help to access ECE.

“We are focused on the areas of greatest need and where we stand to make the biggest impact in ECE participation, among Māori, Pasifika, and children from poorer socio-economic communities.

“We are investing an additional $41.3 million operating over four years in equity funding which will support vulnerable children in most need to access quality ECE.’’

ECE services receive an across-the-board cost adjustment in Budget 2013 to the non-salary component of their funding to further support parents to access quality ECE.

“While fees for ECE are determined by providers, apart from those hours delivered under the 20 Hours ECE rates, this universal cost adjustment will help offset some of the increased costs faced by ECE services.

“ECE is 31.6 per cent more affordable than it was before the 20 Hours ECE was introduced in 2007.’’

The Government is also looking at opportunities to continue to improve the quality of early childhood education available in communities.

“We are aware from two ECE sector working groups that there is further work to do in raising the quality of governance, leadership and teaching in some areas,’’ Ms Parata says.

“These problems are more acute in communities where participation is low and, in fact, may be a contributing factor to that low participation.’’

The Government’s investment in the performance of ECE services has been focused on helping providers train teachers to meet the goal of 80 per cent registered teachers.

“This goal has been largely met and we are now looking to consolidate the existing investment into a new Services Performance Fund. This initiative will be focused on providing high-intensity intervention in poorly-performing ECE services in priority communities.

“It is part of the Government’s focus on making sure that everyone who has a role in a child’s education – parents and caregivers, whānau and communities, early childhood services, schools, teachers – are supported in lifting up those who are being left behind, and encouraging those who are doing well to do even better,” Ms Parata says.

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