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One ECC Centre Could Close Every Week In 2021

2021 could be the year an early learning centre shuts its doors weekly, with a perfect storm of economic factors forcing providers to take desperate measures.

“I’d field a call a week from a provider that’s in trouble and facing shutting down,” said Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds. “Centre closures were already hitting 40 per year and rising, and that could well reach 52 in 2021. It’s a shocking statistic.”

According to Ministry of Education data, centre closures have been rising steadily from 17 in 2016 to 40 in 2020 with no sign or hope of slowing down.

That’s on top of an array of economic pressure, including:

  • The threat of a new public holiday
  • The threat of additional sick leave
  • Increases to minimum wage driving up staff wage expectations
  • Plus the latest raft of changes recommended for the Holidays Act

“The list goes on and on. A centre closing affects so many, from children and families to teachers and the small business and community groups that provide them. It’s been ten years since providers had a meaningful funding increase, and many won’t be here to see it eventuate.”

“We support teacher pay parity in early learning, but it must be accompanied by funding. Services can’t keep enduring all these funding pressures without some realistic support through increase funding subsidies. Reversing the decade-long trend of cuts is critical,” said Mr Reynolds.

The ECC is calling for the government to split any early learning funding increase at 70% for teacher pay, and 30% for centres’ operational costs, allowing them to invest in crucial resources and maintenance, in the forthcoming Budget.

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