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Group size in early childhood must be addressed

Media Release


New Zealand Playcentre Federation

Urgent need for group size in early childhood to be addressed.


Written by Mary Margaret Schuck.

23rd March 2011

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) is deeply alarmed at the Minister of Education's sudden announcement that early childhood services may soon be licensed for up to 150 children. This decision, made with only cursory consultation within the sector, puts at risk the welfare of children in such large services, particularly babies and toddlers, who could be placed into groups of up to 75 at a time.

"The evidence is clear," said Maureen Woodhams, NZPF president. "The most critical time in a child's life is the first few years, and close attachment with a very small number of carers is essential to a child's emotional, social and intellectual development.

"This change to the regulations could allow large numbers of rostered caregivers to pass through the lives of our youngest children at an age when that would be very damaging to their development. It would be virtually impossible to give toddlers and babies the individual attention and care that they need in such large groups.

"Research sets the recommended group size for under 2's as 8, not 75. We urgently request the Minister to set limits on group sizes, to ensure that quality is maintained in centres of every size."

Playcentre believes that the best option is societal support for parents and other family members to be the primary caregivers of their very young children, but no matter where or how the care occurs, it is vital to ensure that policies are based primarily on the interests of the children themselves.

To contact your local Playcentre, see www.Playcentre.org.nz for centres in your area.


ENDS

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