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Early Childhood Council supports recommendations on poverty

Early Childhood Council supports the early childhood recommendations released today by the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty

The largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand supports the early childhood recommendations released today (28 August, 2012) by the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty.

Poverty had many complex causes and many solutions, said Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds. But access to high-quality early childhood education was ‘an essential part of the solution’.

Children living in poverty and not attending early childhood education were likely to arrive at school unprepared to learn, and to stay behind for the rest of their lives, he said.

Early childhood education for low-income children was like ‘an inoculation for multiple diseases, with these diseases including low achievement at school, criminality, unemployment, and poverty as an adult’.

The inoculation was so much cheaper than paying to address the diseases, its implementation was a ‘complete no brainer’.

Mr Reynolds said he particularly liked the Expert Advisory Group recommendation to encourage ECE centres in low-income areas to become ‘community hubs’ that offered both education and care for children, and support for families.

Early childhood education would not work if children went home to dysfunctional and destructive families, he said.

‘The need therefore is to use early childhood education to not only educate at-risk children, but to educate and support their families as well.’

Early childhood education centres were the logical place to establish a range of family services, because parents trusted their early childhood centres, and saw them as a natural part of their lives, Mr Reynolds said.

The Early Childhood Council supported almost all the Expert Advisory Group’s recommendations for early childhood education including the expansion of support for teachers and parents to address children’s behavioural issues, and a focus on continually improving quality.

The Early Childhood Council’s main reservation was that Government would ‘continue paying for new measures to target low-income children by cutting early childhood subsidies elsewhere’.

It would be easy to find money to increase access for low-income children by lowering the quality of early childhood education for everyone, Mr Reynolds said. ‘But it would not be what we would call progress.’

The Early Childhood Council has more than 1000 member centres, about 30% of which are community-owned and about 70% of which are commercially owned. Its members employ more than 7000 staff, and care for tens of thousands of children.


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