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New ECE law will create safety problems

13 October, 2016

New law will create safety problems for home-based early childhood education

A Bill ‘increasing the likelihood of serious accidents in home-based early childhood education’ progressed to a third (and final) reading in Parliament on Tuesday (11 October 2016).

The Education Legislation Bill, if passed, will allow home-based early childhood education providers to offer out-of-school care to school-age children aged 13 or younger.

And according to the Early Childhood Council, the Bill permits ‘some very unsafe practices’.

Council CEO Peter Reynolds said today (13 October) that if centre-based early childhood education services wanted to take in school-aged children they had to provide a separate space ‘away from the little ones’, and this service had to be separately staffed.

But the Education Legislation Bill allowed home-based services to put tots and teens into the same spaces at the same time.

It allowed circumstances in which one, poorly supervised, unqualified ‘anybody from anywhere’ could be in charge of other people’s babies and teenagers simultaneously and in the same space. And it allowed ‘circumstances in which a 100 kilogram 13 year old comes hurtling round a corner, and crashes into a one year old’.

Mr Reynolds said there was ‘no logic for requiring early childhood centres to separate preschoolers and school-aged children, whilst allowing home-based early childhood education to mix them up’.

All children deserved the same level of safety regardless of the early childhood education their parents chose, he said.

Mr Reynolds said he supported the intent of the Education Legislation Bill to enable licensed home-based ECE services to provide out-of-school care, as did other early childhood education services already.

‘But we do not support the way in which the Bill permits unsafe home-based practices in the name of flexibility’.

The Early Childhood Council has a membership of more than 1100 community-owned and commercially owned early childhood education centres. These centres care for tens of thousands of children from one end of New Zealand to the other.


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