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Government hoodwinking parents over early childhood funding

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is warning parents may face more fee increases with many early childhood services effectively taking another hit from this year's Budget.

As centres work on their financial plans following the Budget, it's becoming clear that they are going to have trouble making ends meet.

Following cuts to services announced last year, this year's Budget brought little relief with most early childhood centres getting only a 1.1% funding increase. That is less than the rate of inflation and effectively represents another cut.

"Parents need to make sure they're not being hoodwinked by government claims about more money going into early childhood education," says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.

"There has been an increase in the birth rate for several years now, and more children are attending than ever before, but the amount per child has not kept up." Hayley Whitaker says "this year's Budget has given early childhood education $550 million but the fact is that money is spread over four years and will simply cover predicted roll growth."

Last year the government slashed early childhood funding by $295 million by reducing subsidies to centres which employ more than 80% qualified teachers. The cuts attacked quality early childhood education and have meant 11.7% fee increases for parents on average already.

Ms Whitaker says "those cuts are really starting to bite and without enough funding to cover inflation in this year's Budget, centres will continue to struggle and parents can expect fees to rise again over the next year. We think the government should be honest about this."

"We've seen funding cut to more than 2,000 services, the target for having 100% qualified teachers has been abandoned, professional development for early childhood teachers has been cut and support for teachers in training and new graduates has been reduced," she says.

"Children deserve the best start they can get and it's a shame the government seems intent on continuing to chip away at the value of that."

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