Budget 2015 cold comfort for early childhood education
Budget 2015 cold comfort for early childhood education providers
Budget 2015 has disappointed early childhood education (ECE) providers who received no increase to funding rates.
$75m extra funding over four years has been allocated to ECE, however this is to pay for the increased number of children attending ECE for longer hours.
Nancy Bell, Chief Executive of Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ), said that the ECE sector was hurting.
“Receiving no funding increase was a blow, especially in the context of a 1% increase for the schooling sector. We understand that we are in a constrained fiscal environment however the cumulative effect of low or nil increases following the 2011 funding cuts means that many services are struggling.”
We want to work with Government to raise achievement; participation in quality ECE is integral to this goal. In order to provide quality, services need to provide good teacher-child ratios and to continually invest in the development of their teachers. This is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
ECNZ welcomed a 20% increase (from $4 to $5 per hour) in the Childcare Assistance Subsidy for low income families. Around 41,000 families and 49,000 children could benefit from this change each year. This is also likely to increase demand for ECE places.
Ms Bell said that while an increase in demand may raise occupancy levels most providers will still be forced to raise fees for parents or spend less on teachers.
Increases to benefits were also welcomed however the 9 hour cap on Childcare Assistance for children of beneficiaries remains a significant barrier to enrolment.
“It’s great to see over 96% of our children participating in ECE, but it has to be high quality to make a difference. Raising quality cannot happen without proper investment.”