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2018 Early childhood education complaints report published

More parents, whānau and caregivers are complaining to the Ministry when they have a concern about early childhood education, with a total of 430 complaints received in 2018.

"It’s important that parents and whānau can have confidence that their children are learning in a safe, well-run early childhood service," says Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary Sector Enablement and Support.

"It’s clear that parents, whānau and caregivers are more aware of the role we play and are more confident about coming to us when they have a concern about their child’s education and care or something doesn’t seem right. That shift in awareness is most obviously demonstrated by the fact we’ve had more than twice as many complainants coming to us when they’ve been unhappy with how a service has managed a complaint.

"We want people to speak up when they’re unhappy or unsure of something. It’s reassuring to see that is happening. Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our children.

"While we saw a significant jump in the number of complaints received, the proportion of services we upheld a complaint against increased by less than 1%, from 2.6% in 2017 to 3.2% in 2018.

"The number of complaints received in 2018 was 91 higher than the 339 complaints received in 2017. The latest complaints related to 345 early learning services.

"Every complaint we receive is treated seriously. We assess each complaint, and investigate when required. If a service falls short of the regulated standards, we impose conditions for improvement or shut the service down.

"We investigated 391 of the 2018 complaints. A further 39 did not require investigation. These were either resolved with the service, referred to the service’s own complaints process, referred to another agency or withdrawn.

"Of the complaints we investigated, 221 were upheld, meaning that standards had not been met or the investigation found something that the service was required to improve.

"We suspended the licences of six services and cancelled the licences of five services following investigation of complaints. We changed a further 34 services licences to provisional.

"When a complaint is upheld we follow up in a range of ways. We often require services to review and make improvements to their policies or practice. We will offer advice and guidance to a service so they can do this. In some situations we will provide further support by funding professional learning and development.

"Services are legally required to have processes in place so parents and whānau can complain or ask a question if they’re not happy with any aspect of their child’s education and care. That could be a concern or question about enrolment processes, fees or something more serious.

"Most complaints can be managed at the service level but parents, whānau and caregivers are encouraged to come to us if they are not satisfied with the response from a service or if the complaint is potentially serious.

"Services must also let us know of any incident that is required to be notified to another agency. For example services need to let us know, alongside the Ministry of Health if they have an outbreak of illness. Some services also alert us to issues that happen in the service that don’t require a notification to other agencies.

"In 2018 we received 315 incident notifications. Some of these notifications resulted in a Ministry investigation. Seven services had their licence amended to provisional as a result of an incident and one service had their licence suspended and subsequently cancelled.

"We encourage all services to contact us should they require support or advice when managing and responding to an incident.

"We continue to look at ways to improve our management of complaints and incidents to use the insights from our investigations to improve the education and care provided for our children. As part of this work, all early learning regulations are currently under review to check their fitness for purpose."

Read the 2018 Early Childhood Education Complaints report.

Notes for editors:

-More than 200,000 children attend early learning services.

-In 2018 there were 4,563 licensed early learning services (including ngā kōhanga reo) and 908 certificated playgroups.

-There were 31,418 teaching staff in 2018.

-The draft Strategic Plan for Early Learning 2019-29 recommends a number of changes to current standards. Feedback received from public consultation on the draft plan is currently being considered, and the plan will be finalised later this year.


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