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Budget 2011 a relief for ECE centres

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Following the early childhood education revenue cuts of Budget 2010, the largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand has greeted Budget 2011 with "a sense of relief".

Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds said today (19 May) that his organisation is pleased with the Government's intended increase in early childhood education spending over the next four years.

Much of the new spending would cover only the costs of more children spending more time in ECE, he said. But it was pleasing to see that Government was also targeting some new spending to improve access and quality for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"These are the children who benefit most from early childhood education, but who are also most likely to miss out," Mr Reynolds said.

Any negative impacts of the Budget on early childhood education would most likely occur indirectly through changes to Working for Families and Kiwisaver, he said.

These changes would "probably be small" and result from cuts to family income resulting from increased Kiwisaver contributions and decreased Working for Family revenues. Impacted families might spend slightly less on early childhood education, he said.

It was possible also that the requirement for early childhood centres to pay increased Kiwisaver contributions might lead to "slight increases in costs for parents".

If there was a disappointment in the Budget it was the failure of Government to offer more support for early childhood centres impacted by the Canterbury earthquake, Mr Reynolds said.

"While the Government announced prior to the Budget it would extend full operational funding to earthquake-hit Christchurch schools, it is disappointing it has not found money to similarly assist Christchurch ECE centres some of which are in trouble because families have either moved away or can no longer afford to pay for ECE."

The Early Childhood Council has 1100 member centres that are both community-owned and commercially owned, employ more than 7000 staff, and care for more than 50,000 children.

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