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New Zealand Kindergarten Response to the 2012 Budget


MEDIA STATEMENT

24 May 2012


New Zealand Kindergarten (NZK) Response to the 2012 Budget

“Additional funding to support increased participation in early childhood education is welcome news,” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive of New Zealand Kindergartens.

The additional funding targets Maori, Pasifika and low socio-economic communities.

“Research shows there is a range of barriers which prevent families from accessing high quality early childhood education, and we look forward to working alongside the government and families to address them,” said Clare Wells.

“While there is no increase to the overall universal rates paid to early childhood services to meet increased costs, the status quo represents a degree of stability for services,” said Wells.

The 2012 budget has allocated an additional $110.9 million for early childhood education: $47.9 million in new equity funding for target communities; $43.9 million to meet the costs of the additional children who will be participating in early childhood education as a result of welfare reforms; and $19.1 million for Maori-medium early childhood education services.

NZK supports the government goal of 98% of new entrants in schools participating in ECE by 2015 and believes it is essential that the government support universal access to ECE in order to reach this goal.
The current funding model provides for universal access coupled with additional resources for targeted groups. Increasing participation in high quality early childhood education among Māori, Pasifika and low-income communities requires not only extra funding but also a focus on effectively planning service provision, ensuring quality, developing partnerships, innovation and community development focused programmes.


BACKGROUND

New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) Incorporated, Te Putahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa, is the umbrella organisation representing twenty-nine regional kindergarten associations covering over 435 kindergartens and early childhood education (ECE) services. Nationally kindergartens provide services for 37,000 enrolled children as well as support for their families and whānau. Over one-third of all four year olds enrolled in ECE in New Zealand attend a kindergarten. Almost two-thirds of kindergartens are in low and middle income areas.

The Early Childhood Education Taskforce’s recent report, An Agenda for Amazing Children, concludes that “…investing in early childhood education can be thought of as one of the most effective uses of taxpayer funds.”

Children who attend high-quality early childhood education are better prepared for school, are more likely to stay in school longer and to succeed in school. New Zealand research has found effects of quality ECE remain evident at age 16 years.

“We found that high-quality centres had a positive, long-lasting association
with student’s literacy, numeracy and logical problem solving competencies,
and also with their social skills.”

ENDS

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