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ECE Parents Council Concerned That Slashing Regulations Will Cost Children And Families Dearly

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Parents Council is worried about the new Ministry for Regulation review of the ECE sector - following the release of the terms of reference and the statements made by David Seymour to the media.

Parents Council spokesperson Camille Furnandiz says that the regulation review focus looks to be in response to service provider lobbyist wishes.

“The question is why are ECE providers given so much influence on Ministry committees and consultation on regulations?

“It feels like parents are marginalised, policy-making and consultation processes put provider interests first, and our children become collateral damage,” says Furnandiz.

From the parent perspective the regulation review is not addressing the actual problem, which is that the Ministry of Education has never had the resources in the first place to adequately support, monitor, and enforce compliance with minimum standards in services.

This has meant that services run on a high-trust model. Service providers can get upset when the Ministry of Education must do a licencing compliance check for reasons such as serious injury to a child or complaints. Service providers can respond in a defensive and deflective way.

Furnandiz says that Minister Seymour is listening and responding to this noise about regulations being burdensome and the costs of compliance and not to the needs and expectations of parents for stronger enforcement and increased minimum standards.

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She notes that there is a lack of accountability to parents for the safety and quality of care and education provided by services.

“The worry is that there will be even less accountability to parents than there is now.

“We cannot think of another sector or industry where the users are not consulted for any of the decision making.

 “We also don’t know of another sector receiving government funding that seems to have such little accountability to how that money is used.

“Our babies are precious and we want to feel confident they are in safe hands while we work and study,” says Furnandiz.

Instead of slashing regulations (which include education, health, safety, child protection, food safety, buildings, and playgrounds) the ECE Parents Council would like to see minimum standards raised and new standards introduced to improve the quality of education and care for young children (e.g. we feel there is an urgent need to limit the number of children per class or group and improve teacher-child ratios).

The ECE Parents Council would also like to see the Ministry of Education empowered to investigate parent complaints about fees and fee charging practices. The lack of transparency around the breakdown of fees and frequent fee increases are very distressing for a lot of families.

“Private ECE operators base fees on the profit level they desire and on what they think parents will stretch themselves to pay above the government subsidy so they can work and study to create better opportunities for their families.

“So, if Minster Seymour and the government thinks that fewer regulations will result in cheaper childcare fees, to make it more affordable for more families, then they don’t understand how business works,” says Furnandiz.

Minister David Seymour states that they will be formally engaging with parents so we look forward to being consulted before any more decisions are made on regulation requirements in the ECE sector.

The ECE Parents Council will be participating in the national Early Childhood Education Summit on Monday 10 June in Wellington. For details of the summit go to: https://oece.nz/public/news-and-views/stories/national-summit-on-ece-the-future-for-children/ Further comment will be available to the media then.

About the ECE Parents Council

The Parents Council has more than 800 members. It is a voluntary group advocating for the interests of our children in ECEs and families. Parents and caregivers can join the Parents’ Council by going to the parents My ECE website - https://www.myece.org.nz/

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