ECE sector unites to call for more Government funding for services
Early childhood providers could be forced to put their fees up, and hire more unqualified teachers, if Government funding levels don't increase.
Sector groups including the New Zealand Educational Institute said the increase in the number of children in early childhood education had come at the cost of funding for fully qualified teachers.
"The New Zealand public needs to understand what this means for children," NZEI president Lynda Stuart said on Tuesday.
Research commissioned by NZEI shows the sector would need an increase of $260 million a year, if funding for qualified teachers was reinstated, and child per hour funding was equal, after inflation, to the level it was in 2008.
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At present, 50 per cent of teachers working in a teacher-led service need to be qualified.
New Zealand Kindergartens has committed to having 100 per cent of its teachers fully qualified, but had lost about 14 per cent of its funding since a cut in 2011. Meanwhile, operational costs had risen by 12 per cent, chief executive Clare Wells said.
NZ Kindergartens, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ), and NZEI Te Riu Roa – together representing 900 early childhood services – have come together to call on the Government for a funding increase.
Representatives met Education Minister Nikki Kaye on Tuesday morning, and were told the Government was putting more money toward early childhood education than ever before. Funding had increased every year for the past 10 years, and had more than doubled since 2007-08, Kaye said.
Providers would get an additional $360m of operating funding over the next four years, allowing for a further 31,000 learning places over those four years.
An additional $10m would go towards targeting children at greater risk of under-achievement due to disadvantage.
The latest Budget also committed $34.7 million of funding over four years to support children with behavioural issues focusing on those aged 8 and under.
ECNZ chief executive acknowledged the extra money, but said funding was focused on children yet to enter the system, not those already in it.