Government solution to ECE sector concerns as clear as mud

ECE sector leaders came together for the first time in a long while, responding to the Government’s proposed extension to 20 hours ECE. Sector leaders believed the introduction of additional conditions would have made delivering 20 hours to families unworkable and unaffordable.

“We are appreciative that the government has heard the concerns of over 90% of the sector and responded,” says Te Rito Maioha Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe, “however their solution is partial and clear as mud.”

“The sector met with Associate Minister Luxton just over two weeks ago and explained how the government’s proposal was unworkable and could end Home Based Services altogether. We asked for continued face to face dialogue, and for the additional 20 hours to be delivered under the current guidelines, and for a full independent funding review.”

“While the government ‘has decided to remove the requirement for services to allow enrolments for only the hours of 20 Hour ECE’ it’s not clear how the policy of providing that service is to be charged to parents,” says Mrs Wolfe. “We need certainty not vagueness, it’s still messy and doesn’t work for the entire sector including Home Based whose significant concerns have yet to be addressed. If the government are suggesting the real costs of providing this service will be charged to parents as ‘optional fee’s they need to make that clear to the sector. Currently their statements in the media raise more questions than answers”.

“While the Prime Minister has heard the sector ‘loud and clear’, says Kelly Seaburg of New Shoots, “we actually raised two concerns, in both writing and in person with Associate Minister Luxton. One of those requests for an independent ECE funding review has not even been mentioned.”

“Funding for ECE is haphazard and confusing,” says Cathy Wilson Chief Executive Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand. “We believe good policy decisions should be built from a sound foundation. If we put that solid framework in place, then it will be much easier for good policy to be created that doesn’t have unintended consequences and is clear to parents and the ECE sector. We look forward to the Minister replying to this request as promised,” says Ms Wilson.

“The government has indicated they wish to improve transparency for parents in the ECE sector,” says Simon Laube Chief Executive Officer Early Childhood Council. “The sector already provides significant information on how we spend every government dollar along with the fees charged to parents. So, it’s disappointing to hear the Prime Minister’s remarks when there has been no engagement yet on the details or what the government is hoping to achieve by new transparency rules.”

“The key issue for the sector remains - that the 20 hours policy is not fully funded, not whether we provide hourly or daily charges to parents. That said, we’d start off by saying the policy is not ‘free’ unless the government actually funds the full cost of the 20 hours.”

We need further engagement on the proposal to improve transparency - we want to get around the table and talk face to face to work these things through properly. This is about getting things right so we can deliver better value for our future generations through provision of quality early learning.” says Mr Laube.

Rob McCann - Lead Communications Advisor | Kaitohutohu Whakapā Matua
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Mob 022 411 4560