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Support For Budget From Early Childhood Sector

20 May, 2010 For immediate release

Support For Budget From Early Childhood Sector

The largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand says announcements in the Budget have left the early childhood sector with ‘mixed emotions, many of which are positive’.

Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds said that centres that had achieved more than 80 per cent qualified staff were disappointed to be losing the additional money they got for having 80 to 100 per cent qualified staff.

But if implemented properly, the change was likely to have only minimal impact on service quality.

The change would leave some centres with no choice but to bear the lost income, increase fees for parents, or replace qualified staff with unqualified staff (as qualified staff left), Mr Reynold said.

But the loss of qualified staff was likely to be offset by the benefits of other staff with rare and special skills needed by individual centres. These skills might include the ability to speak the foreign language of parents, the ability to communicate with low decile communities alienated from education, and the special knack that some have with infants and babies.

Many centres would be hurting, but also understanding of what the Government was trying to achieve, Mr Reynolds said. And almost all would be ‘highly supportive’ of the Government’s determination to increase access for low socio-economic children currently missing out on early childhood education.

‘There is no question that low socio-economic children benefit most from access to quality early childhood education, and we cannot oppose entirely a policy package that sets out to achieve this.’

Mr Reynolds said the Early Childhood Council supported also Budget moves to extend 20 Hours to Playcentre and Kohanga Reo, and to allow qualified primary teachers and a greater diversity of overseas-trained teachers to count towards staffing requirements for funding purposes.

The Early Childhood Council was hopeful the Government would show interest in talking to the sector about how Budget changes could be implemented in a manner that caused the least amount of negative impact possible, Mr Reynolds said.

The Early Childhood Council is the largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand. Our almost 1300 member centres are both community-owned and commercially owned, employ more than 7000 staff, and care for more than 50,000 children.


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