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Speech notes from today’s Playcentre Rally

Speech notes from today’s Playcentre Rally

"I’m here today in support of Playcentres in my own electorate of Wigram and throughout New Zealand, and to strongly oppose the ECE taskforce’s recommendation to cut funds to this terrific service and other important childhood education sectors such as Kōhanga Reo.

Playcentres are unique in the early childhood sector. They differ from kindies and early childcare centres because parents are directly involved in the care and education of their children.

Playcentres offer parents a supportive environment to help educate their children because the centres act as community hub: a virtual extended family, offering help, guidance, mentoring and support when mums and dads need it most. And because Playcentres involve parents in the running of their centres across New Zealand, it can offer affordable childcare.

Playcentres are the heart of Kiwi communities. In some rural areas, the Playcentre is the only childcare available to families.

But the government’s ECE task force recommendation for funding cuts threaten the very survival of Playcentres across the country because they don’t fit into its current thinking.

On Wednesday the Minister of Education was adamant the government would not move on its decision over proposed cuts to Playcentre until the consultation period is over. By Thursday, less than 24 hours later, Minister Tolley had abandoned her rigid stance and was stating to the media that there was no risk to Playcentre funding.

This form of brinkmanship seems to be turning into a National Party pastime. Did the Minister smell the coffee? Or did someone remind her that there is an election this year?

If you can change your mind that quickly, however, you can certainly change it back again!

But this change of mind tells us one important thing. By making a strong stand and not putting up with nonsense, you are getting somewhere at last. So keep making some noise because it is not over yet!

But let’s hope the Minister does, in the end, do the right thing.

160,000 children and their families face huge cost increases which they can ill-afford if the other funding proposals from the ECE Taskforce go ahead
The ECE taskforce has recognised the importance of early childhood programmes that involve parents and actually deem them more effective. It even states that effective parent support is one of the best ways that government can ensure good outcomes for children – so why recommend cuts to this vital sector? The report is seriously misguided.

It states that Playcentre’s are a successful model on the one hand but won’t support them when and where it counts.

If the threat of 70% funding cuts is carried out, it is likely that Playcentre’s will be unable to survive. We cannot allow that to happen without a fight. I know your networks throughout the country and how organized you are. So – the government is on notice here.

The government is playing fast and loose with too many important services that help families in New Zealand - services that are the fabric of our communities and our lives.

I’m standing with you today for equal funding for all childhood services. Each and every early childcare centre across the country is doing a vital job. The vital job of giving our children the best start in life.

This National-led government, despite recognising the valuable contribution and excellent results of early childhood education, seems hell bent on savaging this sector.

Drastic cuts could lead to closures of Playcentres across the country which in turn will lead to a large number of people losing their paid employment as they will have no affordable childcare provision.

Families are already struggling to survive. Let’s not let their situation get any worse.

Congratulations on what you have achieved so far and best wishes as you continue to work for the benefit of all families and communities in New Zealand"

Ends

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