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ECE costs to skyrocket

Written By: - Date published: 1:59 pm, December 1st, 2010 - 54 comments
Categories: education, families, national - Tags: ,

The Nats’ stupid slash and burn approach to early childhood education (ECE) is about to hammer families:

Parents face $80 a week fees shock

The parents of tens of thousands of preschoolers can expect to start paying more for early childhood care next year – in some cases up to $80 a week for each child.

The increases are expected to kick in from February once the Government removes the top two funding bands for around 2000 centres which have more than 80 per cent of fully qualified staff.

A new survey, conducted by the Labour Party and released exclusively to the Herald, shows most centres facing the cuts plan to compensate by making staff redundant, passing costs on to parents or a combination of both.

The survey, which questioned 435 of the centres facing cuts, found 89 per cent planned to pass costs on to parents by increasing fees.

Those increases varied from $2 to $80 per child per week. In Auckland just over half of the centres indicated fees were likely to increase by $15 to $30, 14 per cent were $40 to $50 and 5 per cent were planning on increases of more than $50 a week.

Nearly 60 per cent of the centres expect participation to drop as an effect of the funding cuts. Maori, Pasifika and children from low-income families are expected to be particularly affected. …

But don’t worry! I have on good authority that the vast majority of New Zealanders are going to be better off as a result of these cuts being used to fund tax cuts for the rich. Something about “trickle down” I think.

Gallows humour aside, this is going to be a body blow to families. And in the same way that Tolley seems to be in denial about exactly what her national standards mean for children, she is in denial about what her funding cuts mean for families:

Despite that Ms Tolley said she had given centres a 2.4 per cent increase in funding to recognise cost increases and compensated new subsidises to accommodate the GST increase.

“They have had eight months to prepare for this and so I would be extremely disappointed if they increased fees for parents.”

Ms Tolley urged them to recognise that parents were already facing economic pressures and instead take a good look at their own budgets.

“That’s what the Government is having to do, that’s what parents are having to do, so there’s no reason why these centres shouldn’t do the same.”

It’s pretty simple Anne. You’re cutting childcare centres’ funding. So some centres will cut quality, and some centres will pass on costs. In both cases children and families will suffer (to pay for your tax cut). Thanks National.

54 comments on “ECE costs to skyrocket ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    I presume that staff costs make up well more than 50% of the budgets of these places, and probably more like 80%+ (outside of building costs and maintenance, which need to be paid in any situation).

    So really she’s asking these centres to lay staff off, which in turn English will blame as “not real sustainable jobs” because they were a “fraud” created by the last Labour government.

    Ambitious for New Zealand!

  2. Ron 2

    Centres haven’t started laying off staff because they still want to achieve their 80% trained teacher ratios for this year.
    they will start lay offs as soon as the new regime begins.
    A centre with a current 80% ratio and around 70 kids can expect to lose $40,000 p.a. with these cuts. That’s most of a salary.
    It is extremely rich to hear Tolley telling centres to look at their budgets. Their budgets are based almost entirely on her funding of the service.
    She is now spending less so she is buying less. She is buying a lower quality product for our kids.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      She is now spending less so she is buying less.

      This is something that most people, especially those in NACT, don’t seem to understand. They really do seem to think that the amount that they’re are willing to pay is the amount that it costs. This is, of course, far from reality.

  3. hateatea 3

    Perhaps this is a cunning strategy by National to get people off unemployment. People who can’t afford to pay childcare resign from their jobs to stay home and care for their children themselves opening up a vacancy that someone currently on unemployment might fill. The person who doesn’t work anymore doesn’t appear on the UB statistics thus decreasing the total number of unemployed! I don’t think it is a strategy with much future though.

    On a serious note, why is it that all these policies are dreamt up by people who either don’t need them or can afford to pay but are imposed on those who can’t?

    captcha: fallen

    • Treetop 3.1

      I too feel as you do about unemployment going down as some parents will chuck in the towel. Something I would like to add is that what the government pay in Working for Families, the government will have to pay a family who is entitled to the IRD payment more than they are paying now; if the family are even claiming. The next to get the chop will be thresholds being changed for Working for Families so less can be claimed.

      1) Catching up with Australia regarding wages is a joke.
      2) Preparing children for school and socialising them is being compromised with child care cuts.
      3) Financial problems are a big factor in people separating, possibly the DPB figures will increase.

      The above is what being imposed on those who can’t does.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      “On a serious note, why is it that all these policies are dreamt up by people who either don’t need them or can afford to pay but are imposed on those who can’t?”
      Welcome to representative democracy, where your representatives don’t really represent their constituency.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        That’s about the most accurate thing I’ve ever seen said about “representative democracy”.

    • Jum 3.3

      Try taking it one step further and the women are back in the home where NAct says they should be – no matter if their skills in the business environment are lost – don’t worry their pretty little heads about it. Back in the home, no personal income, empowerment lost.

      • Rosy 3.3.1

        I was under the impression that ECE would in part help with the national productivity problem we have here. Apparently women’s participation in the workforce is pretty low by international standards and by improving childcare more women would be able to participate more fully in the workforce thus improving national productivity rates. So it wasn’t just a sop to the masses but was aimed at improving education (impacting on structural employment problems in the future, among other things) and having real economic payback as well.

        Of course the ability for workers to solve the productivity rates is insignificant compared to businesses actually using profit to upgrade plant and skills, but that’s another story.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.3.1.1

          with the national productivity problem we have here.

          The productivity problem that we have here is that our managers don’t use the most modern options available to them.

  4. big bruv 4

    Hang on….

    So the people who are having kids are going to be asked to cover the cost of their kids ECE.

    What the hell is wrong with that?

    Do not forget that a lot of these families will also be receiving WFF.

    If they cannot afford it then they can give up the smokes, the booze of god forbid….don’t have more kids than they can bloody well afford.

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      “What the hell is wrong with that?”
      Nothing at all, if you don’t care about the education of children and the future of this country.

      • big bruv 4.1.1

        Who the hell are you to talk about the education of our kids?

        The current system turns out a 25% failure rate and you lot think that nothing needs to be changed.

        I do care about the education of my kids, that is why their mother and I made sure they got what ever help they needed, it’s called personal responsibility…..not that you guys would know what that means.

        • Treetop 4.1.1.1

          It is not just about personal responsibility. Some parents can be a bit ignorant about child development. When my parents first came to NZ in 1944 and 1952, they both could not speak English. Thankfully there was a kindy a few doors down, this enabled me to become socialised in a different cultural setting than what was in the home. Also my mother was orphaned during the war and my father was age 16 when the war broke out, they did not have the assistance of family to help with child rearing either.

        • Lanthanide 4.1.1.2

          “The current system turns out a 25% failure rate and you lot think that nothing needs to be changed.”
          I’m not against changing the education system.

          I am against slashing funding to the education without a commensurate or greater increase in funding to some other part of the education system, however.

          Similarly I’m not against National Standards if their is wide expert consensus that they will help educational outcomes of children. So far that hasn’t happened.

        • felix 4.1.1.3

          The real tragedy is that most of those 25% are in the bottom 1/4 of students. Disgraceful.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.3.1

            Really? Because the statistics I saw said that it was the bottom quartile which was the problem, I don’t know where you are getting your numbers from

          • KJT 4.1.1.3.2

            For starters it is less than 15%. Most countries with the same or more inequality than us have a greater percentage so we are doing pretty well. No thanks to people who want to waste 30 mil on telling us what we already know.

            Some decent money used to expand already successful programs would help a lot. Addressing inequality so more of those kids can become part of society and have a reason to succeed would help a lot more.

            That would mean that those earning over 300k would have to pay a couple of hundred dollars extra though, and we cannot have that!

            The fact is all those mealy mouthed right wingers do not care about kids so long as they can continue not paying taxes.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.3.2.1

              Addressing inequality so more of those kids can become part of society and have a reason to succeed would help a lot more.

              And would probably reduce crime as well.

        • ron 4.1.1.4

          Hilarious how that figure keeps going up! It was 20 percent a month ago. I can just see BB’s post in 2012 – “an education system that fails 100% of our kids!!”

    • Treetop 4.2

      I am so pleased that I am not raising a family today as I could not afford it. I found one child to be expensive, I didn’t smoke and I was lucky if I drunk a bottle of wine a month. I also did home based child care for five years and the wages were poor.

      big bruv if you are not a parent you need a reality check.

    • felix 4.3

      big bludge,

      When you start paying your own bills and debts you can start lecturing others about paying their own way.

    • Jum 4.4

      Goodness me Big Bruv, your mate McKay the replacement godfather of the alcopops marketing con, won’t be happy with you telling people not to drink. Or upsetting Matthew Hooten the lobbyist of the tobacco magnates like Owen Glenn by telling people not to smoke – tsk tsk. When you think about it the mates and supporters of NAct are actually a bunch of people who like to produce bad things for people. All for money. National and Act – money out of misery.

      Devilspawn from Pondscum Inc.

    • hateatea 4.5

      Big bruv, you are an ignorant, arrogant ass.

      People who are in the lowest paid jobs in this society are under more financial pressure than ever before. Many have to work more than one job with some families having both parents working two or three part time minimum wage, no benefit jobs to meet the cost of surviving, not living. Their children are already being punished by the lack of quality time with their parents. They need quality ECE. In order to raise achievement levels for all New Zealand children, access to the very best needs to be something that is guaranteed at every level of the education sector.

      Of course, perhaps you would be more focussed if Anne Tolley moved on to ensure that no more than 80% of teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary education need to be appropriately qualified to teach our children. Our future workforce, the next generation of leaders of New Zealand are entitled to the very best.

      Just as a side note, I have needed childcare both when I was married and when I became a single parent. At one point I was paying more than 25% of my income for the three sources of childcare I needed to cover 8.15 to 5.15 daily. There was barely any money left for food let alone cigarettes and alcohol.

      captcha: my

      • Draco T Bastard 4.5.1

        Many have to work more than one job with some families having both parents working two or three part time minimum wage, no benefit jobs to meet the cost of surviving, not living.

        And which is why I support a Universal Income. It really does get rid of poverty while also encouraging people to take a few more risks.

    • billy fish 4.6

      You really are an offensive little small minded ignoramt troll aren’t you big bruv?
      Assuming that all we have to do to afford child care is give up the booze and fags cos thats all us useless parents do anyway, ya know hang out waiting for stuff to be given to us coz we is thick

  5. BLiP 5

    Suffer little children . . . the rich need their tax cuts.

    • Jum 5.1

      Now there is a sound-bite.

    • hateatea 5.2

      ‘Suffer little children . . . the rich need their tax cuts’

      I would laugh if it weren’t so true. It reminds me of the saying ‘the rich get rich and the poor get poorer’

  6. Big dogs’ bollocks. Here’s a more accurate summing up:

    Labour decided to provide a luxury, gold-plated system at taxpayers’ expense. Taxpayers voted in a govt less profligate with their money, and the gold-plating is now being removed. Parents faced with the horrifying spectre of… er, childcare centres pretty much as they were up until a few years ago.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      funny that the Right thinks that gold plating is no good for children, while leaden thinking is.

      Parents faced with the horrifying spectre of… er, childcare centres pretty much as they were up until a few years ago.

      Yes, I see you noticed it, more NAT going backwards with our childrens’ education system.

    • anarcho 6.2

      No, Labour followed neoliberal ‘advice’ and during the Mid-80’s pulled the largely ignored ECE sector into the education ministry (from MSD) and created a homogenious curriculum to tie the huge variety of centres together. This sudden interest in ECE was about tightening the control of education, increasing participation (economic benefits) and getting mothers into training and the workforce (again, economic benefits).

      With brain research showing that the first five years lay the foundations for all future learning this sector – and the quality of service provided – become a key educational focus. So while this intensive funding was kick-started by neoliberalism, across the political spectrum it is seen as a critical area for building ‘model citizens’ – it’s just the agendas that differ slightly and thus a tup-o-war has begun: from the teacher directed ‘pre-school’ with its rote learning, through to the free-play environments of the Gerber/Pickler inspiresd centres.

      “The Making of Global Citizens: traces of cosmopolitanism in the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki” by Iris Duhn of Ak Uni brilliantly deconstructes the language and structure of the ECE curriculum and how ‘seeds’ of neoliberal thought/action are embedded…

      Blaming political parties is pointless. Neoloiberalism wants to control education and define what constitutes success; and these days ‘success’ is only related to economic potental, not individual satisfaction.

      I don’t believe National want to dismantle this system, they’re just tight bastards.

  7. Ed 7

    I know of one family who have already done the sums, and have decided that the mother will give up her job as a teacher and their child will have very reduced hours at a creche where she has had wonderful learning and socialising. Early childhood education has been shown by experts to have a greater financial return that any of the road projects, but I suspect it does not deliver profits to National voters within one parliamentary term.

    I don’t recall National ever saying that they supported real choices for women with children, but even if they did, given our current financial situation (not helped by National / ACT decisions), I guess breaking a few more promises is only to be expected.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Get real, NACT don’t support choices for any but themselves and their rich mates. Everybody else, as far as they’re concerned, should do as they’re told, no questions asked.

  8. Jum 8

    Psycho Milt Pretty much describes the thinking of the rightwing devilspawn of Pondscum Inc.

    Labour puts in place fair and equitable education to educate the children of all families but NAct says quality education is too good for those who can’t afford to pay for it. Seems equal education is not to be in the underworld of JKeyll.

    • Psycho Milt was describing his own thinking, not right-wingers’. Break it down: the skyrocketing cost of ECE already happened – to the taxpayer, not to parents. For that state of affairs to continue, there’d better be some significant, actual benefit to show for it, not just some vague waffle about “quality education” and the early years being important. There aren’t such benefits to show, because Labour in fact spent the great bulk of the money on:

      1. Indulging the ECE workers’ professional association in trying to make 100% of childcare staff get qualifications.
      2. Providing a big vote-encouraging subsidy to middle class parents like me, who’d send their kids to childcare regardless of the subsidy because both parents are on fat salaries.

      It would be nice if National would go back to the drawing board and think of a way to improve access to quality childcare without wasting enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money, but that’s just not what National do so why waste time on it. Instead of bleating about it, try starting in on your Labour MPs to tell them that’s what they need to do next time – think up a way of doing it that’s actually sustainable.

      • lprent 8.1.1

        The problem is that you can happily dismiss any change to any education sector on your basis of seeing a “..significant actual benefit to show for it.”. The ECE changes haven’t been in long enough to reach that conclusion in any systematic way. Changes in educational outcomes will usually take decades to register as being effective or not. Because what matters is how effective education is to the adult that the child grows into.

        For instance it will probably take a decade before we find out how much damage that Nationals standards are going to cause to the development of kids.

        But I’m intrigued by your idea. Should we look at shorter term issues on adults in the same way? As far as I’m aware there is no substantive evidence (just some self serving non systematic fluff) saying that existing fire at will bill does any good. Should we dump that. The cycleway improving employment?

        Or the all important questions. The national party improving our wage parity with Aussie ? So far they have only improved the disparity. How much do we pay John Key nd Bill English?

        • Psycho Milt 8.1.1.1

          In the case of 100% qualified, you may be right – results would take quite a few years to show up. OK then, what results are expected to show up eventually? This is a shitload of additional cash thrown at a situation that wasn’t actually a problem, so there’d better be some really good reason for spending that additonal money, hadn’t there? If you spend a lot more to “improve” a satisfactorily-performing system in a way you can’t actually define or measure, it’s quite justifiably described as gold-plating and it should be stopped.

          On 20 hours free, you’re not right – there’s a fairly obvious measurement, ie increased take-up of childcare services by people on low incomes. According to Tolley, this isn’t happening. If she’s lying, that’s a free gift to Labour. Shouldn’t they be trumpeting the increased take-up?

          • Bunji 8.1.1.1.1

            1. Indulging the ECE workers’ professional association in trying to make 100% of childcare staff get qualifications.

            So what you’re saying is that you’d be happy with only 60-80% of primary and secondary (& tertiary?) teachers being qualified? Because the early childhood sector is in fact the most important sector as far as learning goes, both from social and economic reasoning, so surely their levels of quality staff are at least as important as later ones.

            $13-14 back in economic gain for each $1 invested in the sector. Admittedly not in a 3 year term, you do have to wait for the kiddie-winkles to get to the workforce, but still – it seems to make sense to invest as much as we can into the sector.

            • Psycho Milt 8.1.1.1.1.1

              1. An under-two-year-old in childcare isn’t at school, so where you get the comparison with teachers from isn’t obvious.

              2. Parents generally don’t have tertiary qualifications in ECE either. Somehow, babies continue to become toilet-trained toddlers who can talk and use cutlery despite this.

              3. Lots of workplaces have a mixture of professionally qualified and unqualified staff, based on the actual requirements of the job. I’ve yet to see a strong case for the unqualified people who were doing an excellent job on the under-twos side of professional childcare being made to choose between studying for an unnecessary qualification, or giving up their jobs.

              • hateatea

                ‘An under-two-year-old in childcare isn’t at school, so where you get the comparison with teachers from isn’t obvious.’

                ECE is the catch-all for all child care as all have an ‘education’ requirement. Children start learning from the time they are born so the better trained their carers, the better (in theory) their early experiences. Whilst there is a lot to be said for the naturally gifted, loving carer, it is truly amazing to watch someone who really understands child development working with tiny children.

                ‘ I’ve yet to see a strong case for the unqualified people who were doing an excellent job on the under-twos side of professional childcare being made to choose between studying for an unnecessary qualification, or giving up their jobs’

                It is my understanding that there are ECE qualifications that are offered to those already in the workforce and that are studied for alongside work and that giving up a job is not required.

                The point that you seem to be ignoring is this : For parents to fully participate in the workforce in the 21st century, quality childcare needs to be available for children as young as a few weeks until 14 years of age. The better trained the workforce that cares for the children is, the better equipped our children and grandchildren will be. If we as parents and grandparents are at work earning and being productive, we should expect those who help us parent and care to be educated and valued for their work

                • It is my understanding that there are ECE qualifications that are offered to those already in the workforce and that are studied for alongside work and that giving up a job is not required.

                  Unless you don’t actually want to study for an unnecessary qualification, in which case you’d better look for another job.

                  For parents to fully participate in the workforce in the 21st century, quality childcare needs to be available for children as young as a few weeks until 14 years of age.

                  Sure – but it already was available before Labour went in for gold-plating it. If you personally have a devout belief that “quality” childcare necessitates 100% tertiary-educated staff, feel free to pay for such extravagance yourself but don’t demand the taxpayer should pick up the tab.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Interesting that the Right Wing is trying to say that spending more on children’s education is somehow “gold plating” it, and unnecessary.

                    Unless its spending more on private schools for the wealthy, which is somehow necessary.

                    • 1. Not right wing.
                      2. Already explained how this particular instance of increased spending constitutes gold-plating, and haven’t suggested it’s a general principle.
                      3. Haven’t even implied subsidising private schools is necessary.

                      You’re like a Kiwiblog commenter in reverse…

          • insider 8.1.1.1.2

            The history of preschool education is so strong in NZ that we shouldn;t need to wait years, it should be instantly obvious by looking at historic academic records. All those kids who went through playgroups, Playcentre with unqualified mothers or who didn\’t go at all would consistently show up as underachievers compared to the Kindy kids who no doubt all went to university.

            I suspect the relationships are far more complex than that.

  9. Treetop 9

    I have a number of concerns about unqualified staff who work in rest homes. Due to the wages being so low the right skills are often lacking and this impedes the care of the rest home residents. Often the residents will not speak out about individual needs not being met e.g. personal hygenie, being listened to, nourising meals, appropriate exercise. Those with dementia are as vulnerable as young child are as they are not aware of being treated inappropriately.

  10. KJT 10

    Two minds about this one.

    The qualification creep led by Universities wanting bums on seats.
    Practical jobs which are often best learn’t on the job with an already skilled practitioner and block courses have been replaced by 3 year degree courses necessitating another 2 years on the job to be useful.
    There are many jobs now supposedly requiring degrees which people used to do fine before without one.
    Schools manage fine with qualified Teachers and less qualified aids and other staff.

    My kids did fine in Primary school after play centre and a short time in Kindegarten. Play centre have only parents who have done short courses.

    On the other hand, a lot of kids would do better if much more attention and staff were directed into help in the early stages at Childcare and primary school.
    The money may be better spent on extending proven remedial programs so that children who need them get more than a set period, rather than on more qualified staff..

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Yeah, and often the quals aren’t the highly technical ones we need for our real economy. Just more lawyers and accountants. And professions like nursing have lost a lot of practical elements out of their courses in order to fit in more reading of academic papers and theoretical research.

      • KJT 10.1.1

        You could say the legal aid system and the tax system are social welfare to mop up the excessive number of graduates in these fields.

  11. Treetop 11

    Squeezing every last dollar of profit out of the venture seems to be the goal.

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