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Early Learning Centre Funding Freeze Turns Ten

In May, it will be ten years since Early Childhood Education centre funding was frozen. Centre owners and managers hope this unwanted milestone will end in this year’s budget.

“Underinvestment is everywhere in early learning. Teacher pay is just starting to be addressed, and it’s time centres were included too,” said Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds.

“Deferred maintenance, additional materials and resources for children, staff on the minimum pay possible are just a few of the areas increasingly under threat in the last decade.”

“Meanwhile, GST increased, increases in teacher pay were only partially-funded, rent went up, materials, power – the list of costs goes on, and that’s before the pandemic. No other small business in New Zealand could expect to survive under such pressure, said Mr Reynolds.

Education Minister Hekia Parata uncoupled centre funding from inflation in the 2012 budget, and it’s not changed significantly since.

Providers like kindergartens, playcentres and Kohanga Reo have received increased government support since then. But centres, who care for and educate 69% of children enrolled in early learning, have had no significant funding increase in that time.

“We’re calling on the government to split any funding increases at 70% for teacher pay and 30% for centres’ operational costs. It won’t fix the systemic issues in the funding system but will be a start to reversing this decade of neglect, and allow some centres to keep their doors open,” said Mr Reynolds.

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