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Early Childhood Council looks forward

The Early Childhood Council looks forward to working with the new Government

The Early Childhood Council (ECC) looks forward to working with the new Labour/New Zealand First coalition Government on areas impacting early childhood education policy.

The ECC Chief Executive Officer, Peter Reynolds, says the ECC wants to see the early childhood education (ECE) sector treated as an equal partner at the education tables, and in education policy.

“How we value our early childhood services, the centre owners, managers, and teachers, directly feeds into the quality learning outcomes for our country’s pre-school-aged children,” Mr Reynolds says.

New Zealand has a world-class ECE curriculum, Te Whariki, but there are areas of the ECE sector that could be improved. In particular, the ECC looks forward to working with the new Government to address the funding inequities that have crept into the ECE sector since 2011.

Subsidy funding for all services should be set on an equitable basis. A more realistic per-child funding rate for all services is one way to support the provision of quality in the sector, and ensure all families and whanau have choice and can access to quality ECE providers.

“Government policy should, as a priority, address the loss of funding from the per-child subsidy level across both the Universal Subsidy and the 20 Hours ECE Subsidy to compensate for inflationary adjustments, to the extent that this is possible within a responsible fiscal envelope.
“ECE services that can afford to do so, following an upward adjustment to the per child rate, will more likely explore increasing their teacher numbers toward the 100% qualified goal – should there be teachers available to employ and should this be a goal the ECE centre wish to embrace,” Mr Reynolds says.

The ECC is a huge supporter of parents, whanau and caregivers rights to choose between the diverse-range of ECE services on offer in New Zealand. We are lucky choice available, and a high quality national ECE curriculum, Te Whariki.

However, many New Zealanders won’t realise there can be vast differences between ECE service providers and there are differences in the rules, regulations and funding models these providers operate to.

“The ECC wants to see a level-playing field in the ECE sector,” Mr Reynolds says.

“All ECE service providers, whether it be home-based, parent-led, Kindergarten or an early childhood education centre, should be subject to the same reasonable levels of government rules and regulation. This would ensure ECE providers across the board offer the same levels of safety and quality because they operate under the same rules and regulations.”

The Early Childhood Council looks forward to continuing these discussions and working with the new Government, the incoming Education Minister, and Associate Minister, on the important portfolio of early childhood education.


What are the areas of ECE that the ECC thinks could be improved?

Simplify the ECE funding system: by combining the different payments into one less complex system, sourced from both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development. Prioritise funding to Māori, Pasifika, and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to ensure those most in need can access ECE.

Return to a realistic per-child funding rate: by addressing losses made since 2011 to the per-child subsidy level. We recommend the Universal Subsidy and the 20 Hours ECE Subsidy be compensated with inflationary adjustments.

Sensible, equally applied regulation across the sector: review regulation and criteria every 5-years (Ministry of Education and ECE sector team) to either eliminate or simplify unnecessary rules. Ensure regulations, like those under the Food Act, are applied consistently across the ECE sector and costs, such as verification and registration, capped so centres know what to budget for.

Increase access for children from low-income families or those living in hardship currently missing out on ECE: extend efforts to build new ECE services in areas with low participation and no existing services with capacity available. Ensure services are a good fit for the communities they serve and they combine education and care with services for family health, parenting education, housing, parent support, and return to work programmes for welfare beneficiaries.

Improve access and quality for children with learning support (special) needs: increase the per-child hour subsidy for children with additional learning needs to cover costs of education and care. Train teachers to recognise children with additional support needs, and how to access and deliver teacher support. Ensure ECE is an equal partner at the Community of Learning table where Learning Support decisions are made.

Pay equality across the ECE sector for those doing the same jobs: catch-up payment to education and care centres sufficient to restore, in part at least, pay parity between Kindergarten and other teachers who are doing the same jobs. In the future increase the universal funding available to education and care centres by the same or similar amount as any increase to the Kindergarten Collective Employment Agreement.

What is the Early Childhood Council?
The Early Childhood Council (ECC) represents the interests of independently owned licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand and promote the provision of quality early childhood education (ECE). We have over 1,000 members, 30% of which are community-owned and 70% privately-owned. ECC members employ thousands of teachers, and care for tens of thousands of children.

Why does early childhood education (ECE) matter?
Research shows ECE establishes the foundations for a child’s future learning, and in New Zealand we have good uptake of ECE services. New Zealand has a highly effective ECE sector that offers choice and innovates rapidly in response to social change, government policy and different c

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