ECE Taskforce report

Written By: - Date published: 12:45 pm, June 2nd, 2011 - 16 comments
Categories: child welfare, education, families - Tags: , , ,

David Clark is the Labour candidate for Dunedin North. The following is reprinted with permission from his blog:

ECE Taskforce report

I’ve previously outlined the case for quality early childhood education in the Otago Daily Times.

Yesterday, the Government taskforce appointed to review the sector released its report. NZPA’s take on it is here.

The group synthesised current literature on the sector, and made some sensible recommendations. There is a healthy emphasis on capturing the benefits that flow from targeted early intervention.

But, in many ways it is a disappointing report. It is set up to be so. The group was appointed with a limited mandate. They were only to examine the best use of existing funding within the early childhood sector. This is crazy – as the group reiterated in their report: there is ample evidence that investment in the sector brings strong returns to our society. But further funding was ruled out from the start. The group had to work within the constraints of an environment where cuts have already been made.

The essay within the report proposing new funding mechanisms aligns with the current Government’s privatisation agenda. Centres will set fees according to parents’; perceived ‘ability to pay’. Providers will no longer be required to provide 20 hours free quality early childhood education.

The proposed new funding model, and associated justifications, are captured in the extracted table below:

Although the full detail is not fully explained, it appears that providers will be responsible for deciding just which child qualifies for which subsidy. Different rates will apply according to parents’ income, ethnicity and other variables. Where parents’ income is tested, it’s easy to imagine funding anomalies that parallel those connected to university student allowances. Centre managers may be responsible for making judgments about socio-economic need of parents and children. What was once a welcoming relationship appears set to become something more judgmental.

The Labour Government’s model provided access to 20 hours free quality early childhood education for all citizens. What is clear with the new model, is that this money will be spread far more thinly, and parents will be expected to pay far more. If under twos are included and more hours are to be subsidised, the subsidy will not stretch as far. Barriers to accessing education and care for our children will grow.

The report correctly identifies that investment in quality early childhood education is one of the best a country can make. I agree. I think we can do better.

16 comments on “ECE Taskforce report”

  1. PeteG 1

    The report correctly identifies that investment in quality early childhood education is one of the best a country can make. I agree.

    I agree too, and we need to do better – but not just in ECE, one of the critical areas that needs attention is kids who don’t make it into ECE, they are far more likely to be at risk and more in need of developmental assistance.

  2. ZeeBop 2

    Janet Frame was saved from a lobotomy. But did all the people who weren’t get an apology? No. Its a bit rich to say we need the system (that fails our economy, our culture, our society, our kids) just needs more focus. What it needs is to be made to own up to those it leaves behind with an apology. Key should be bowing and deeply remorseful that families can’t buy milk.

    Just be honest with yourself, its not good enough, if its wrong, then fess up, and keep doiong so until everyone left-right-up-down has had enough so we’re all on the same page, because all it looks like is a game of tennis were the economic, and social indicators get worse, as each new government pledges to shift the deck chairs around.

    This is why we need a upper house, long serving, systemic memory, that will stand up to radical shifts to the right. Britain had one when it had 4 million people! Why can’t we afford one now?

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      Be careful what you wish for

    • McFlock 2.2

      I almost bit, but it would be a bit of a distraction from ECE issues to come up with the myriad reasons why we shouldn’t copy the structure of the English government in 1600.

      Personally, my belief is that if they expect parents – especially single parents – to work, the government should provide 40hpw free childcare to all families and fund it out of general taxation.

      • ZeeBop 2.2.1

        We could just follow UK, OZ, laws instead of letting our genius parliament try out far rightwing policy on us. As to the snide comment that we’d ever produce a 1600 parliament in the 21st century that’s laughable. And the distrust of anyone having any real say divorced from real power that an upper chamber provides, that’s just a shocking indictment of the nazi like propaganda, I mean geez they already rush too much reform in under urgency, if you put scum into a room and force government to pay them off (as was the case in the 1600) then there is time to get a mob to the parliamentary gates. Oh, yeah, and move the parliament to S.Auckland, you want real government you need to get the parliament within a bus ride from the poorest in society. Its called listening, the forcing of the dissent from those most harmed by parliament, for parliament, and eventually of parliament.

        • McFlock

          Britain had an upper house when it had 4 million people. This population was reached was around 1600. The upper house in particular served (and still serves) simply to enforce the status quo over dynamic change, and at this stage of the pendulum swing it’ll just keep the policies of Brash, Key and the money men in force.

          Look at the US and GB – becoming bicameral won’t necessarily make the politicians listen. 
          What we could do is increase the number of representatives (so electorate mps serve fewer folk). Actually, given that there is party-based voting and the mps don’t all have to be in the house at the same time, there is no reason not to have say 360 reps (arbitrary figure to illustrate 50:50 list:electorate parliament with more than 60 electorates) running in 3 or 4 simultaneous parliamentary sittings. If MPs served 10000 rather than 30000 the democracy would be more direct, more independents would be in the house, and administration would be more democratic. Independents dealing with simultaneous sittings might be difficult to resolve, but not overwhelmingly so. After all, they don’t physically need to be there, and there can be a few hours between the close of debate and the vote.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      We do not need an upper house. It achieves nothing except possibly to make laws worse.

  3. anarcho 3

    yeah it’s good to see a U-turn on many of the Govt’s recent moves. The recommendation for a shift to a more user-pays model will however threaten the current universal model which gives equal access (but not of course equal outcome). Spreading the existing 20hr free scheme to target ‘at-risk’ children will only create gaps else where.

  4. freedom 4

    the new rules being brewed suggest a basic job requirement for a single parent receiving the DPB will mean twenty to thirty hours per week.

    for this example let’s look at a twenty hour requirement.

    Firstly that involves 21-22hours childcare when you include travel time from childcare to work to childcare. With the current available Susbsidy of 20 hours childcare the parent is left with a debt in childcare of 2 hours or $40 ($20 p/hr accepted childcare costs quoted all over the show)

    $40 = 3 hours work (3.0769230 for the bean counter brigade)
    3 hours work = $39.00

    an immediate deficit is created

    but wait there’s more….

    the twenty hour job earns the lucky parent $260
    which is $160 over the allowed limit before secondary tax/clawback is applied

    so take away 70 c in the dollar for the $160 = $38 of earnings for ten hours worked

    so ten hours of employment will allow the parent to pay for two hours of childcare

    psst- how does the parent get to work in the first place, add petrol/bus/train fares

    now of course you say but wait what about the $100 dollars the parent earned before clawback. That is plenty to pay the childcare costs.

    You see the thing is the parent was hoping to put that towards the power bill, the ever diminishing Supermarket shop, the phone bill the clothes for work, the increased travel costs but guesses that when it’s all boiled down it would be better to go talk to the bank and discuss the possibility of investing in a litre of milk.

    As the parent contemplates the new day, are you surprised they are quietly wondering when the well-off in NZ became a closeminded cabal of ignorant heartless parasites

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      The well-off have always been a closeminded cabal of ignorant heartless parasites. We just keep forgetting and then let them get the upper hand until we remember and pull them down with good old fashioned democracy (Otherwise known as Bloody Revolution).

      • freedom 4.1.1

        To be fair to New Zealand’s history, up untill the eighties many of the well-off were heavily involved in community projects or support organisations. There were many generous NZ patrons. Not only of the Arts and Sciences, Community Sports and Social programmes were often the result of a beneactor from the well to do part of town. In short much of the goodwill that NZ now enjoys exists solely due to those who helped Kiwi kids get a step up.

        Where are they now is the question?

  5. ianmac 5

    Buried in the middle there, “Teachers pay should be between the teacher and the Employer.”
    Now that’s another thin end of the wedge! The wealthier units can afford higher pay. The units with greatest need, are poorer so they can only offer poor salary. Round we go.
    A unit for profit has every reason to avoid paying salaries.

  6. Not only are there decile 1 – 10 schools, now NZ will have decile 1 – 10 ECE centres and the same problem seen in schools will be seen in ECE centres.

    Where will the class divide end?

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      As is usual with these things, with a revolution of some desciption 🙂

  7. Bubbsea 7

    The extraordinary increase in early childhood education investment in recent years (starting from the introduction of Free ECE by the Labour Government in 2007) means that the requirement to make best use of existing funding was far from unreasonable.
    As for providers being responsible for deciding just which child qualifies for which subsidy, well images of alcoholics in charge of the brewery come to mind. The report is light on detail, but it’s nothing like what you have in mind, David.
    And targeting, which is what the report implies, means that the funding is NOT spread as thinly. What planet are you on, David?

  8. No-one seems to be picking up on the recommendation from the Taskforce that 80% registered teachers in teacher-led services is an appropriate ratio. I thought that the Left would have been all over that.

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