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Treasury report threatens increase in early childhood fees

Treasury report threatens increase in early childhood fees

Treasury recommendations, contained in the briefing to the incoming Finance Minister, threaten increases in childcare fees and drops in the quality of education and care, says the largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand.

The recommendations suggest Government should ‘target existing early childhood funding to children in low-income households’.

But Early Childhood Council President Maria Johnson said today (03 February) that early childhood education centres were ‘extremely concerned’ that these recommendations would ‘lead to both increased costs for average New Zealand families and a decline in the quality of early childhood education nationwide’.

Hundreds of thousands of children and families could be impacted, she said.

Average New Zealanders were already paying more as a result of revenue cuts announced in 2010, and further cuts had the potential to create stress for thousands of hard working families.

Further revenue cuts could force centres to reduce the proportion of qualified staff, reduce the number of staff per child, and cut back on educational programmes and necessary building maintenance.

Said Ms Johnson: ‘All these things happened as a result of the early childhood revenue cuts announced in 2010. And centres are absolutely dreading the possibility they are facing more of the same.’

Almost everyone in the sector supported the idea of making early childhood education available to the most needy of children, she said.

‘We know the benefits. We know the more at-risk children we get into early childhood education, the less educational underachievement there will be in primary and secondary schools.

‘But we do not support the idea that this access should be purchased at the cost of educational quality and increased fees for everyone else.’

The Early Childhood Council is the largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand. Its 1100 member centres are both community-owned and commercially owned, employ more than 7000 staff, and care for more than 50,000 children.

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