Government fails ECE services – again
“Once again the government has failed to increase the hourly rate to early childhood education (ECE) services,” said Clare Wells, chief executive New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK). “For the ECE sector it feels like Groundhog Day."
Although the government announced $350.5 million more to ECE over four years, it is to cover the cost of more children attending. “It’s smoke and mirrors,” Clare Wells said. “Yes, there is more money but there is no increase in the hourly funding rate per child. That means the hourly rate remains lower than it was in July 2008 while costs have escalated by around 12%.”
NZK welcomed the new funding of $35.5 million over four years for ‘Targeted Funding for Disadvantage in ECE’. “It is entirely appropriate to increase funding to better support children in disadvantaged communities and we welcome that,” said Clare Wells. “Kindergartens will use that money to address the barriers that stop children from attending ECE regularly.” These barriers may include the cost of ECE, and a lack of transport, food or warm clothing. It may also be used for additional teachers.
“We absolutely support the focus on children and whānau faced with complex situations – that’s as it should be,” said Clare Wells. “However, there is nothing for the 4,500 licensed ECE services already delivering education to 200,000 children.”
“To make a real difference for all children we need to see a comprehensive package that supports high quality ECE for every child in every community,” Clare Wells said. “High quality teaching and learning needs 100% qualified teaching teams in ‘teacher-led’ centres - and kindergarten provides that.”
“Being in the situation yet again of no increase to the per hour funding rate, means services that have a commitment to 100% qualified and certificated teachers will find it even harder to make ends meet,” Clare Wells said. “Kindergarten believes low cost, high quality ECE is every child’s right.” The government discontinued the funding rate for 100% qualified teachers in 2010. ECE services now only get funding for 80% qualified teachers.
NZK calls on the government to champion every child’s right to high quality ECE. Regular funding increases to match rising costs for ECE services would support that. “We’d also like to see the government require all teacher-led services to employ 100% qualified teachers,” Clare Wells said. “And fund our services at that rate. The government is actively encouraging participation in ECE services – we must make sure that investment is realised by children attending high quality services.”