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NZ Homebased ECE welcomes review of sector

New Zealand Homebased Early Childhood Education Association – 3 June 2011

NZ Homebased Early Childhood Education Association welcomes review of sector

The New Zealand Home-based Early Childhood Association said today it that it endorses most of the recommendations made in the ECE Taskforce Report ‘An Agenda for Amazing Children’ as a means to improve quality outcomes for children in Aotearoa and is keen to take a lead role in the consultation process that it understands is to take place.

President of the NZHECEA Carol Stovold said in-home childcare, as recognised in the report, is the fastest growing sector in early childhood education. More parents are choosing Homebased childcare valuing the nurturing, secure attachments with a significant adult who provides individual attention, supports focused interactions and intentional learning experiences.

Ms Stovold welcomes the recommendation to assess the quality of current Home-based education and care services but is cautious over what an ‘assessment’ may look like and who would undertake such an ‘assessment’. Instead she would like to call for an independent research based review of quality in Homebased.

Ms Stovold acknowledges that research has proven that training and qualifications are key components of quality in early childhood services, affirming the direct correlation between quality education and the qualifications of the early childhood practitioners providing the care and education. “However despite the NZHECEA repeatedly requesting increased qualifications requirements, for educators, there have been no significant moves by government to address this in the past.” Ms Stovold says.

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The NZHECEA has instead supported the development of a new ‘fit for purpose’ certificate of ECE Practice with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand as a foundation qualification for educators. Currently 20% of enrolments into the Open Polytechnic ECE degree come from the home-based early childhood sector evidencing that practitioners in home-based ECE are up-skilling themselves without any current funding incentives.

Ms Stovold does challenge some sections of the report by stating that it has not contextualised the statement regarding concerns raised in the ERO 2009 monograph on home-based services. “The statement on page 57 of the report has implied that a third of home-based services are applying inconsistency to some requirements of the regulations and ineffectiveness of some personnel management practices”. Ms Stovold says, “To take this data and extrapolate it out to a third of the sector is nonsense when the report was based on a small sample of 63 services or 26% of the then 270 services from 2006 – 2008”.

“In comparison in the same section of the report on reprioritising government expenditure where it discussed the provision of ECE for children under two years of age the report noted ‘concerns about aspects of compliance in about half of the 74 centres [sampled for the report]’. This statement has been very carefully contextualised. Using the same model of data sampling does this then imply that 50% of childcare centres are not compliant? Of course not, this is too simplistic and nonsensical”, says Ms Stovold

The report also goes on to look at supplementary reviews from ERO as an indicator of low quality yet fails to report that, in the same ERO 2009 monograph on home-based services, the supplementary review rate for Homebased services was around 5%, below those reported of Playcentre, Education and Care centres and Kohanga Reo.

The NZHECEA also challenges the proposal to reclassify the home-based sector from teacher led to ‘other’. The report discussed home-based services as being funded as teacher led. “Home-based services are funded less per child hour for over 2 year olds than the same child in Playcentre or Kohanga Reo and almost 50% less for children under the age of 2 years than children in a childcare centre. Funding is based on service costs and the model of supportive monitoring, mentoring and provision of on the job learning for educators in the Homebased sector requires a fully trained ECE teacher”, says Ms Stovold.

“Whilst regulations allow for up to 80 children to be supervised by only one registered teacher the usual practice in the sector is an average network size of 34 - 37 children per registered teacher. The educators themselves range from having no qualifications to holding post graduate degrees in ECE. To suggest that home-based ECE is not teacher led devalues the members of the sector who hold recognised teaching qualifications and the move to improve quality by up-skilling the workforce”, say Ms Stovold.

Ms Stovold also says “One of the most important indicators of quality, in home-based settings, is from a socio cultural perspective where caring, sensitive, respectful interactions occur between children and educators, children and their peers, parents and educators, educators and coordinators/management, parents and coordinators. The key to this is positive, respectful and reciprocal relationships that support parent's aspirations for their children in this setting.”

Other key indicators are:
• The many varied, focused interactions which children have with their educators and the amount of attention they receive due to small group size.
• Children having stable secure attachments with their educators or teachers due to primary care and small group size (particularly important for children aged less than 3 years).
• Educators and children being constructively engaged in meaningful experiences within the home setting and the local community.
• Children being encouraged to initiate, participate in meaningful activities, and explore, and teachers/educators who support and scaffold learning with intentionality.
• Trusting relationships, support for parents, clear communication and information sharing regarding children's progress.
• Languages, cultural practices and heritages being respected and valued.
• Creating a service culture that supports and encourages professional practice, learning, training, qualifications, review and reflective practice.
• Group size directly contributing to less risk to children's health particularly under twos with underdeveloped immune systems.

The NZHECEA represents the views of its membership who are committed to improving educational outcomes for all children. “We are aware that some current home-based services [who are not members] may prefer to just provide care for families. Any recommendation to improve information to parents to enable them to make informed choices regarding the quality of options in early childhood is seen as a positive step forward”, says Ms Stovold

Further information about the NZHECEA may be found on their website


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