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Early Childhood Council reacts to Budget

Early Childhood Council reacts to Budget

The Early Childhood Council has welcomed the money in the Budget that is being directed to increasing participation in early childhood education by vulnerable groups.

It has, however, expressed concern that this money was being found by freezing the value of subsidies to other early childhood education centres.

Council CEO Peter Reynolds said inflation meant that this freeze was in fact ‘a cut by stealth’. And ‘thousands of ordinary families’ would soon find themselves paying more for their early childhood education.

In less well-off areas, in which parents could not afford to pay more, centres would be forced to reduce the quality of education and care, Mr Reynolds said.

Many centres were already struggling to keep their heads above water, he said. And the freeze would hurt both these centres, and parents who were struggling already to pay existing fees.

The investment in at-risk children would, however, have ‘life-changing consequences for large numbers of children’, said Mr Reynolds.

‘It will make the difference between at-risk children arriving at school prepared to learn or unprepared to learn, and it will positively impact those children for the rest of their lives.

‘They will be more likely to do well at school and be employed, and less likely to be unemployed or in prison.’

But there would be a price. And it would be paid by comparatively well off families with increased fees. And by less well off families with cuts to the quality of their children’s education and care.

The Early Childhood Council is the largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand. It has more than 1100 member centres, 31% of which are community-owned and 69% of which are commercially owned. Its members employ more than 7,000 staff, and care for tens of thousands of children.

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