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Playcentre and the new ECE Taskforce

Playcentre and the new ECE Taskforce

The Government's newly announced ECE Taskforce is an opportunity to take a fresh look at the best outcomes for children, families and wider society, according to New Zealand Playcentre Federation president Maureen Woodhams.

Terms of reference for the Taskforce focus on efficiency and effectiveness in ECE provision, and must also focus on making provision sustainable.

“There is a rich body of research to show the factors that lead to high quality early education for children” says Maureen Woodhams. “As well as providing these high quality outcomes for children, Playcentre also provides good outcomes for successful parenting, and builds social capital which member parents transfer into their wider communities.”

Playcentre parents are actively involved in running education sessions for their children, where parents learn alongside role models, and undertake NZQA-approved modules on centre management and early childhood learning. Research by Powell in 2005 showed how this develops parents in their parenting role, and builds social capital which parents later transfer to many other voluntary and work roles in the wider community.

“The work Playcentre does comes at a high cost in volunteer time” says Maureen Woodhams. “The federation commissioned research in 2008 which showed that the current weight of volunteer time required to run a Playcentre is unsustainable, largely due to administrative requirements. Current government funding assumes we will not pay administrators.”

“In our research, parents were, by and large, happy with the amount of time spent on session delivering the education programme. However, for each centre there were 2179 volunteer hours required each year at centre and association levels. Some of this load should be removed to paid administrators to ensure Playcentre continues to provide our efficient education service.”

Playcentre has provided high quality early childhood education to New Zealand families for almost 70 years. In the Competent Child Study, the landmark longitudinal study of effects on children of different ECE service kinds, Playcentre consistently came out in the group producing the highest benefits to children over both the short and long term. There are nearly 500 Playcentre around New Zealand, providing education to 16,000 children and their families.


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