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Children should be at the heart of policy

Children should be at the heart of policy

Ensuring the needs and aspirations of all children and their families are at the centre of government policy development is a key theme in the New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) response to the Early Childhood Education Taskforce report.

“We support efforts to increase participation, particularly for Maori and Pasifika children and those in low income families.” says Clare Wells Chief Executive, NZ Kindergartens. “Maintaining universal funding to services in addition to targeting will be important. We know the benefits of high quality ECE extend all the way up the income ladder and for all socio-economic groups.”

The Taskforce proposes a new funding system. The full cost of 20 hours ECE will be replaced with a subsidy and parents required to pay more, and there is a shift towards more targeted funding.

“The introduction of 20 hours ECE reduced the cost of services to parents. It improved quality and increased participation. The Taskforce proposal puts these gains at risk.” said Clare Wells,

The government will need to consider the impact on families of introducing the proposed funding system hard on the heels of funding cuts in the last two years. “Some services have already increased costs to parents and there will likely be many more in future.” said Clare Wells.

The government meets almost the total cost of schooling, 75% of tuition fees for tertiary students, and around 60% of the costs of ECE. “Parents and communities contribute a significant amount already in fees and donations as well as through fund-raising, grants and in volunteer time. Further pressure on household budgets will inevitably mean some children will miss out.” said Clare Wells.

The Taskforce recommended the current regulation of 50% qualified teachers in services be lifted to 80%.

“Kindergarten employs 100% qualified teachers and we believe all teacher-led services should be supported to meet that same standard: regulating 80% qualified teachers is a positive step towards all teachers being qualified. There is no logic in having fewer qualified teachers just because children have yet to turn five.” Clare Wells said.

“We support many of the Taskforce’s recommendations and welcomed the opportunity to comment. The next step is crucial to make sure the interests of children and their families are at the heart of policy development.” Clare Wells said.

We have recommended the early childhood education sector is represented on groups set up to advance the policy. “I am sure the Minister will welcome the sector’s expertise in this next phase and we look forward to being part of that.”

ENDS

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