Rates for free early chidhood education

21 Dec 06

Download ECE funding rates 21 Dec 06.pdf(66 kb)
Funding rates have been announced for Labour’s policy of 20 hours free ECE for three and four-year-olds

Funding rates for Labour’s policy of 20 hours free early childhood education for all three and four-year-olds, were announced today by Education Minister Steve Maharey.

The new funding rates – available to all teacher-led early childhood services from 1 July next year – will see the cost of early childhood education lowered for thousands of New Zealand families, benefiting up to 92,000 children in the first year.

The rates will range from $4.09 per hour to $10.60 per hour, depending on the type of service and the number of qualified teachers employed.

Steve Maharey says the subsidy has been set at a level that recognises all of the costs involved in providing quality early childhood education.

“Labour is committed to lowering the cost of early childhood education for all New Zealand families,” Steve Maharey said.

“The rates will enable early childhood centres to meet the cost of offering free early childhood education for up to 20 hours a week. In addition, centres will continue to receive subsidies for up to 30 hours per child per week.”

The rates for free ECE follow a major increase in funding subsidies from 1 July this year, which has seen funding rates for all-day services increase by up to 13 per cent, and rates for session-based services increase by up to 11 per cent.

Steve Maharey says quality and participation in early childhood education have increased significantly in the last five years as a result of investments by Labour-led governments.

“Around 94 per cent of all New Zealand children now take part in early childhood education before starting school. Overall funding for early childhood education has more than doubled since 1999, and the number of qualified teachers has increased by 50 per cent.”

Early Education Federation welcomes new Minister of Education


The Early Education Federation welcomes Steve Maharey as the new Minister of Education but also acknowledges the contribution made by Mr. Mallard.

“We look forward to working with Mr. Maharey on early childhood issues, ” says Federation spokes person, Helen Baxter. “While Trevor Mallard was the Minister of Education there has been a lot of progress made in the early childhood sector, much of which has been advocated by the sector for some time.”

Ms Baxter says that the Government and the sector have worked in partnership to develop a long term strategic plan for the sector and they are keen to see it fully implemented.

“Working together to achieve common goals is what we are about”, said Ms. Baxter. “We have appreciated Mr Mallard’s consultative approach and we hope that Mr Maharey will continue in the same vein.”

The Federation represents the interests of 17 key early childhood organisations from around the country.

20 Hours Free for 3 & 4-year-olds a sound policy

7 August 2005

The Early Education Federation views with alarm a report that suggests the government’s policy of 20 hours free early childhood education for three and four year olds at community-based services should be axed before it is even introduced in 2007.

The Early Education Federation includes 17 organisations involved in early childhood education, representing kindergartens, playcentres, full day centres, home-based providers, hospital services, special education and providers of teacher training, as well as employers and unions for early childhood teachers.

Organisations represented provide education to around 113,000 children.

For decades, three and four-year-olds have had access to free or almost-free education by trained registered teachers in kindergartens, but, with more parents working, these have been inaccessible to many because of their sessional hours.

Extending this funding to other community-based services staffed by qualified and registered teachers is an initiative that was welcomed by everyone with a commitment to education throughout the sector.

“It will improve affordability for parents and will improve access for many children, as well as facilitating the development of more community-based services” says Early Education Federation secretary Helen Baxter.

The Early Education Federation is also alarmed by a suggestion in the same report that the move towards a fully qualified workforce should be watered down.

By 2012, all regulated teachers in early childhood services will need to be qualified with a teaching diploma.  “All the evidence suggests qualifications are linked to quality” says Ms Baxter.

For this reason, most centres are taking advantage of the generous government support and the flexible education options provided to upgrade staff qualifications.

“Parents would not want their children taught by unqualified teachers in schools” says Ms Baxter.  “Why should younger and more vulnerable children, often in centres for longer hours, be considered inferior to school-age children?”

National Party Media Release

6 July, 2005

The next National Government will introduce a new tax deduction for pre-school childcare costs to ease the financial pressures on parents, particularly on second-income earners and employed sole parents, National Party Leader Don Brash announced today.

The policy will take effect on 1 April next year, and will cost an estimated $160 million per year.

In the first step in a phased release of tax policy, Dr Brash says “National intends to support families by providing them with real choices about how they balance and manage their own lives.”
“National recognises that childcare costs are a serious burden for families.

“The basic principle behind this policy is that we regard childcare costs as a legitimate work expense for second-income earners who would otherwise be engaged in childcare, and for employed sole parents.

“National will recognise as tax deductible the pre-school childcare costs of working parents up to $5,000 per child.  Costs will be deductible at 33% of out-of-pocket childcare costs.  In effect, one-third of childcare costs will be able to be claimed, resulting in a tax refund of a maximum of $1,650 per child.

“This will be available for all forms of childcare – that provided by registered childcare centres, or informal arrangements such as nannies and other home-based care.”

The deduction will be modelled on the existing housekeeper rebate.

“Providing a tax deduction will enable parents to choose the type and duration of childcare which best suits their circumstances.

“National recognises that childcare choices made by families vary according to where they live, the service they use and the hours they work.  We do not think the government should dictate what sort of childcare is best for families.

“This policy is designed to ease the burden faced by parents who choose to work outside the home and bring up children, and reflects the fact that for most families financial pressures mean that both parents need to work.”

National’s full tax package, to be announced at a later date, will ease the pressures on middle-income families.

Linda Mitchell speech at launch of Early Education Federation

5 July, 2005

Linda Mitchell is a Senior Researcher, NZ Council for Educational Research and founding member of the Federation of Early Childhood Education Organisations, predecesor to the Early Education Federation

I am delighted to be speaking at the launch of the Early Education Federation. It’s lovely to see so many familiar faces, and new faces too, and to know that your organisation is thriving, with a new name and a common focus on what is at the heart of your role and influence – developing a collective voice to influence and promote good quality ECE. It may seem hard to believe, but the Department of Education paid representatives of national ECE organisations in 1986 to fly to Auckland and attend the week-long course at Lopdell House where the aims and constitution for this organisation were developed. I was a participant on this course, and when we thought up the name FECEO none of us liked it much – it was one of those names emerging from committee decision-making – it wasn’t snappy and we weren’t very keen on the acronym. Early Education Federation is a great name.

Then as now, FECEO members had their eyes set on goals for children and families, and good conditions for the staff and parent educators who work in early childhood education settings. FECEO has been an advocate for good quality early childhood education since its inception, sometimes stronger in offering a voice than other times. One of the organisation’s first submissions was to the Social Assistance Cabinet Committee in April 1991 following on from the four major reviews of early childhood education funding, staffing, curriculum and properties. Reading the submission, I was struck by the persistence of the arguments. While they have changed in some shape and detail, core ideas have remained, and are now being implemented through the strategic plan for early childhood education, Pathways to the Future – Nga Huarahi Arataki. In April 1991, the organisation cautioned against increased access at the expense of quality and argued for [and I quote]:

?      the right of every preschool child to attend an early childhood education service delivered by trained competent people, and to have needs met regardless of gender, ethnicity, class, special need or location, in a specifically equipped environment which meets the child’s developing needs;

?      a funding formula linked to costs and operation;

?      weighting in the formula for aspects that now form most of the components of equity funding;

?      assistance for staff to undertake training towards a teacher qualification;

?      three age bands in the staffing regulations; and

?      greater governmental support for community-based provision to meet needs of all families, including better planning.

The submission wasn’t listened to then. Quite the reverse – I remember Crispin Gardiner, a member of the early childhood funding review team at that time publicly stating that none of the submissions were read. He left the team in protest and wrote his own independent report. And I’m sure many here will remember the “mother of all budgets” in July 1991 when the then Finance Minister Ruth Richardson cut funding for under twos from $7-25 an hour to $4-50, when staff: ratio requirements for under twos were reduced from 1:4 to 1:5, and when the blueprint goal for improving teacher qualifications was dropped.

Despite these setbacks, the basic ideas continued to be advocated by members of this organisation in the 1996 Early Childhood Education Project Future Directions, and in the Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Education Working Group. Some fundamental aspects – a greater role for the state in supporting early childhood education provision, support for teacher education, and a funding system that moves away from low levels of funding with everyone treated the same towards a better funded system based on costs – are now embedded in the strategic plan, Pathways to the Future – Ngä Huarahi Arataki, alongside an emphasis on pedagogical support.

I was asked to contribute to your celebration by “looking at where the organisation has come from, what you have been through and where you are going”. I believe your continued viability 19 years after being established, is because members have a vision for what they want that is wider than individual interests, believe in collective work to achieve goals that respect the diversity of early childhood education, are able to explain their position, and have a commitment to good quality community-based early childhood education for all children.

I can’t tell you where you are going but I do see three key immediate challenges:

?      First, to work together on aspects of the strategic plan that are currently unformulated and awaiting policy development so that your views about it are heard. And I’m thinking particularly of the expected policy development on parent and whänau –led services, so that the high levels of volunteer workload are reduced, parents and whänau are supported to take up training opportunities provided by their own infrastructure, and the contribution of these services to parent learning and support is acknowledged within the policy framework. And of resource development to support Pasifika centres, multi-cultural resources for working with a more ethnically diverse New Zealand, and the up-coming consideration of professional development and leadership programmes.

A second challenge is for ECE services themselves to offer pedagogical support for the teacher/educators who are directly working with children. There is evidence for example that centres that found it easier to meet qualification requirements of the strategic plan were those that relied on providing opportunities for professional development and staff training, rather than on recruiting new staff with the necessary qualifications. The best evidence synthesis on characteristics of effective professional development linked to children’s learning that I and Pam Cubey wrote showed the importance of centre management that value and support ongoing professional development and teacher/educators having time and effective opportunities within their working week for reflection and discussion. As national organisations representing your own membership, there is a role in encouraging responsibility for these framing conditions. These include rates of pay.

?      And, given that the strategic plan for early childhood education Pathways to the Future – Ngä Huarahi Arataki encompasses ideas advocated by the Early Education Federation, the third challenge is to ensure that the government that is elected this year will retain the strategic plan and further the interests of the early childhood education sector, because history tells us that long term plans have a habit of going astray.

Education Review Office. (2003). Readiness for new qualification requirements in early childhood services.www.ero.govt.nz/reports.

Mitchell, L., & Cubey, P. (2003). Characteristics of effective professional development linked to enhanced pedagogy and children’s learning in early childhood settings. A best evidence synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education.