Playcentres are under threat of closure, even as politicians investigate ways to get parents more involved in children's learning.
In an emotionally charged submission to the education and science select committee at Parliament yesterday, Playcentre Federation co-president Maureen Woodhams said government funding for early childhood centres was biased towards those that had trained teachers and provided all-day care. By contrast, playcentres were run and operated by volunteer parents.
The select committee has been hearing submissions as part of an inquiry into engaging parents in their children's education.
Unless under-funding was addressed in the next two years, playcentres across the country "would be screwed", Ms Woodhams said.
She said the choice of what childcare parents accessed had been removed for all parents except the rich.
Parents had been fooled by the myth that their child would miss out on something if they weren't in a trained teacher environment, she told MPs.
"We could have 500 teachers in the 500 playcentres across the country but actually what we do is train 10,000 parents and they're the parents that continue to be engaged in children's education."
Parents needed to spend quality time with their children so they could learn how to parent, learn positive behaviour management and learn alternative ways of raising their kids, she said.
Island Bay Playcentre mother Antonia Reid said parents were their child's first teacher.
"At playcentre we have children from babies through to five years old so parents come along and can see what to expect and what they need to know in the years to come."
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