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Childcare costs ahead

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, May 21st, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: budget 2010, Economy - Tags:

Doing the shopping with two children in tow is usually a challenge in itself but if I add increasing inflation I can see bumpy times ahead. What is of more concern is what is going to happen to good early childhood education. I’ve been talking to a couple of parents and so far all are of the view that any tax cut they receive will quickly be eaten up by rising fees. Why am I concerned? According to the NZEI:

Overall the Budget threatens to dumb down the early childhood by punishing the services most committed to improving quality. The $280 million removed from funding for centres with 80% or more qualified teachers will mean centres will have to absorb an extra cost of around $1.50 an hour per child, or pass it on to the parents of young children. This decision will impact 92,000 children in 2000 ECE centres.

It’s important to understand the difference between child-care and early childhood education. As a working parent, knowing my children are getting the best possible care while I am away makes a real difference. As the NZEI point out:

NZEI says recognising primary teacher qualifications for ECE is an acknowledgement that ‘a teacher is a teacher is a teacher”.

I was horrified to read this from the NZ Childcare Association:

The removal of the top two early childhood education funding bands for services with 80 -100% qualified teachers in today’s budget is a brutal blow to children and families says NZ Childcare Association Chief Executive Nancy Bell. ‘The announcement in today’s budget of 5-13% decreases in early childhood funding affects more than 2 000 teacher-led ECE services enrolling around 93,000 children. This affects two-thirds of all teacher-led services.’

This shouldn’t just be for the people who can afford to pay more by investing in good early childhood education now we all benefit tomorrow.

16 comments on “Childcare costs ahead ”

  1. MollyByGolly 1

    Gotta agree with the ECE cuts.

    Sure, our children’s futures are better if they have qualified ECE teachers. But who says “qualified” has to be 100% of staff with a 3 year University degree?

    The problem with the current model is that it meant perfectly good ECE staff, who didn’t fit the very narrow definition of “qualified” were being squeezed out of jobs. For example, someone with lots of experience in the sector and training as a primary school teacher = not qualified. Someone with Play Centre qualifications = not qualified.

    Yes, keep up the professionalisation of the sector but let’s be honest, too. A large part of what staff do, especially with the under 3s, is provide care (wiping messy hands and faces, changing nappies, toilet training) and you don’t need a 3 year degree to do that well. What you need is some understanding of child development (it is natural for children to make messes, children develop at different rates) and the right temperament (relaxed about mess, patient, gentle).

    As a new parent the staff at my work crèche taught me lots of practical parenting – how to get a baby off to sleep without breastfeeding it, for example – but those older women would not find employment under the current definition of “qualified”.

    ~sits back and waits to be pilloried by the ECE mafia~

  2. jen 2

    wierd position here Molly. Not sure how you can argue in support of increasing professionalisation and then trot out the old arguments that have always been used to justify underfunding ECE.ie its not really teaching, mostly just caretaking” I sense an anti ECE agenda here, just from your referral to the ECE mafia. We couldnt have ECE teachers getting ideas above their station now could we..

  3. jen 3

    Sorry spelled Weird wrong dammit

    [lprent: You should have 6 minutes to use the re-edit on your comment if javascript is enabled in your browser. There is a timer and edit link above your comment. ]

  4. MollyByGolly 4

    My comment was about the narrow definiton of qualified that has been instituted – that for a centre to be providing quality care it has to have 100% of its staff with a 3 year University degree.

    I think this is good for the Universities and the ECE teachers, but is it necessary for the children?

    Can’t you have quality care with 80% of staff with 3 year degress and the other 20% with other forms of qualifications? A 1 year diploma? Play Centre qualifications? Other teaching qualifications (not specifically ECE)?

    I’m not anti ECE, I’ve used it extensively myself and appreicate the good care and education provided. I know anecdote isn’t data, but I came across plenty of ECE staff, without 3 year degrees, who I readily trusted my children with. Many of these people have been forced out of the sector. Tell me how that is good.

    Freeing up ECE providers to have a mix of staff could be a good thing. Cutting funding for staff that are qualified, though isn’t – my opening comment was misleading in that respect.

  5. Julie 5

    Actually MollyByGolly a diploma is sufficient level of qualification for registration as an ECE teacher. So there goes your main point right there.

    My rough estimate, based on merely a hunch and observation of the sector, is that probably at least half of the people in-training towards becoming registered ECE teachers are doing so via the diploma pathway (what is referred to in the sector as Q1, i.e. _not_ the graduate diploma for those who already have a bachelors in something), many of them doing the study part time while they work in a centre. Often that centre is supporting them with their studies, through subsidised fees, paying them for study days, even paying them while they are on practicums in exceptional cases. And there has been additional funding from the Govt to support those in-training, and their centres, although that has diminished in the last two years and has just been significantly restructured in a way I haven’t fully got my head around yet.

  6. MollyByGolly 6

    Primary school qualification + many years ECE experience = no qualification

    Play Centre training + many years ECE experience = no qualification

    As for Not Mentioning Caring because that degrades the work ECE workers do therein lies the problem. What you’re arguing for is rebranding the work as Professional + increasing formal qualifications = a way to increase respect and pay. I reckon that’s the wrong way around. Why not push for more respect for Caring, and have the ECE sector wear the Caring badge proud?

    Of course ECE work is educational. But why deny the Caring side in order to get parity with primary school teachers? If you adopt that strategy then of course Play Centre qualifications don’t count as much as a degree. Which is a shame because there is no evidence that Play Centre isn’t high quality ECE.

    I’m not anti-ECE at all, I am anti the conversion of vocational training into University degrees, and the assumption that this somehow improves outcomes. I’d rather close the pay gap between, say, primary school teachers with degrees and primary school teachers with the older teaching qualification, by increasing the pay of the latter group, than forcing them all to retrain.* That’s the real degradation.

    * a three year primary school training at an old training college counts for a certain number of papers towards a degree in education. But only about half a degree. No matter how experienced the teacher is.

    • prism 6.1

      Interesting points mbyG
      And we should remember that nobody trains to be a politician (hardly anyone say). Experience is touted as being all for these bozos, and even that can be thin. Experience in what one may ask?

      Paula Bennett has been a solo mum for a short while so that prepared her to be in charge of a multi-billion department! And Gerry Browncoal – and a farmer, and… Having served on a school board, or as city councillor etc. is enough for them to confidently take charge. But pre-schooler carers need university degrees!

    • Quoth the Raven 6.2

      This whole ECE thing has ballooned into a captialized and professionalized absurdity. Where once we had working class cooperatives like playcentres where parents would work together for their children we now a have expensive professional businesses. The sycophantic leftists who pushed this don’t see the problem or the irony. They push more and more spheres of activities from an informal model to the formal capitalist market through subsidization, regulation and regimentation whilst simultaneously decrying that market. 🙄

  7. prism 7

    QtR – Unfortunately true. Blinking hard won’t make that go away. Always talking about higher standards, which tend to require building changes. Children must have a separate room for sleeping area etc. Quality and standards are important but the plethora of inventive regulation can crush the spirit and energy of non-commercial providers and force up charges by the businesses.

  8. Frank Macskasy 8

    It strikes me as strangely contradictory that, on the one hand, government wants New Zealanders to up-skill so that we can meet the commercial challenges of our trading partners…

    … whilst on the other hand, they want to employ less and less qualified New Zealanders in services such as early childcare.

    Call me old-fashioned, but wouldn’t it make more sense to actually encourage people to up-skill – instead of actively choosing unskilled or semi-skilled staff for short-term economic reasons?

    Taken to it’s “logical conclusions”, none of us should have any education whatsoever so our labour will be competitive to the rice-paddy worker in Vietnam? (And no offense intended to Vietnamese rice-paddy workers, who I’m sure are all top blokes.)

  9. Herodotus 9

    Interesting commentary from “Mr Fair Go” at about 9:15 this morning

  10. Julie 10

    MbG how come you completely ignored my comment pointing out you are totally wrong about requiring a degree?

    You will be pleased to know that primary teachers will now be able to count fir licensing purposes as registered teachers in ECE.

    Also, primary teachers have been trying for years to get their classroom experience recognized to bump them up the pay s ale if they have lower levels of quals. They won a trial of a new practice based system to do just this, in their last round of negotiations. They are now having to sue the govt to get this recognized.

  11. Baffled Teacher 11

    Interesting reading as a qualified Early Childhood Teacher I am gutted by the cuts to the top funding rates as early childhood was aiming for 100% qualified but this has been slashed too surely our children deserve to be taught by qualified Teachers as our Primary and Secondary are. I too was involved in Playcentre for some 16 years and was totally engrossed in this with my children and learnt so much moving onto to further my training once my three children had all started school. But surely my chosen passion for teaching children in early childhood should not been seen as less value than teaching in other fields this is surely what we are talking about. As cutting the top funding bracket does indeed undervalue my profession. We are talking about the minimum ratio of 1 Teacher to 10 children our centre is lower than this as is 1:8 and we do actually employ highly professional women who are deemed as unqualified but like you say do hold an huge amount of skills which we totally value and will continue employing these wonderful people as there is no way in our small rural town we will not.

  12. jen 12

    Quoth the Raven, the issue of private childcare facilites being private money making enterprises is a huge problem in my view but its not happenining because of the ” professionalisation” of ECE workforce. Many studies have shown that the quality of childcare is related to the levels of training of its workforce. As a leftist, former early childhood teacher my ideal is either state run or community based early childhood centres providing quality affordable childcare by qualified staff. Its a public good which should be funded and provided as such. Playcentre just does not meet the needs of many families where both parents have to work and its demise is also not the consequence of increased professionalisation.

  13. Baffled Teacher 13

    As a qualified early childhood Teacher I do not agree with the view that only state run or community based ece can offer affordable ece. As a professional Teacher I wanted to work in a centre which offered this and was quality in its ideal of numbers not a centre which was based on ‘quantity’ which was within the ece’s I worked in which were indeed community run and needed many children in the door to meet costs. As a disgruntled Teacher I took the initiative to create a centre yes private which could offer both “Teachers and Parent Quality” as the lower group size meant for my self and others as Teachers the ability to work in a high quality centre where we could actually ‘teach’ and not simply supervise the crowd. Which was the case in larger community based centres in our town. Surely quality does not only happen in community based their are other Teachers like myself frustrated at the inability to actually teach because large group sizes. Food for thought !!

  14. jimbo 14

    I would like to see more specific comment regarding rate changes so each centre can assess impact.

    community based or not it affects us all

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