Hypocritical and Unrealistic
Hypocritical and Unrealistic
I am disappointed and angry at the Government’s words about the cuts to early childhood funding reported in the article Parents face $80 a week fees shock by Elizabeth Binning in the New Zealand Herald 1st December 2010.
"They have had eight months to prepare for this and so I would be extremely disappointed if they increased fees for parents."
Ms Tolley urged them to recognise that parents were already facing economic pressures and instead take a good look at their own budgets.
"That's what the Government is having to do, that's what parents are having to do, so there's no reason why these centres shouldn't do the same."
Many, probably most, of the childcare centres in New Zealand are not-for-profit and surviving on a limited budget where fundraising is essential. If their Government funding goes down, of course increasing fees for parents is a main option for the centres. And of course, again, this is going to affect the families with low to average incomes the worst.
I have a child at the local childcare centre and her fees (over and above the 20 free hours) are being covered by the child care subsidy from Work and Income. This allows me to work part time, run errands, do housework and have a bit of time to myself. It is a very good small centre with great activities and teachers; it has a very low cost for these services. This centre has 100% qualified teachers.
When the local Centre’s income from government is reduced, fees will probably go up by as much as $35/week. I’m not sure I can afford that (and we are on a reasonably average income). My understanding is that one of the ways a Centre can reduce costs is by not providing 100% qualified teachers. They, understandably in my opinion, do not wish to sack any of their teachers. My understanding is any place choosing to do this could risk a personal grievance against them.
On top of this, the Government is cutting funding to territory institutions, who in turn provide professional development for the ECE sector. This means that many centres will not be able afford to provide this essential on going training for their teachers.
For the last 10 years, the Government has been encouraging centres to get up to 100% qualified teachers stating that this will have better learning outcomes for children. Now that many of them have achieved this, the Government have decided that 80% qualified teachers is good enough and is cutting the funding accordingly. It is like a kick in the teeth for centres that are trying hard to provide quality education and care for our children. Childcare Centres are filled with qualified teachers who really care for children and want what is best for them. The Government is full of people who want to be seen to be cutting costs. If a funding cut is “necessary”, then that is one issue, but saying “they need to take a good look at their own budgets” is just unnecessarily attacking a profession and under valuing ECE teachers and their contribution to our society.