Discussion on home-based ECE services welcomed
“Ensuring every child experiences high quality early childhood education (ECE) is a priority” said NZ Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells.
“One in five children engaged in education today will be attending an ECE service – almost 200,000 young children. We have a responsibility to ensure that experience benefits children’s well-being and learning regardless of the service they attend.”
The ECE sector is presently involved in a series of reviews of which the first to report is on home-based services. “Home-based services cater for just over 18,000 young children and have a different set of rules from other ECE services” said Clare Wells. “It’s timely to align services’ responsibilities and obligations and to lift expectations of home-based services in the interests of children and their families and whānau.”
Four kindergarten associations provide home-based services alongside kindergarten services. “We have a commitment to high quality community-based and not-for-profit ECE services” Clare Wells said. “We welcome the review’s focus on supporting quality in home-based services and ensuring government’s investment is directed to education and care.”
The proposals seek to establish a minimum qualification for home-based educators, provide better professional supervision and support, improve health and safety, improve working conditions for educators, and require a greater transparency for the use of government funding.
“The proposals in the discussion document are a useful start in setting higher expectations of home-based service providers” said Clare Wells. “However, the review stops short at proposing a change in legislation to remove ambiguity and ensure the focus of home-based services is squarely on high quality education and care of young children.”
The Education Act talks about home-based education and care services but defines them as the ‘provision of education or care, for gain or reward, to children who are under the age of 5 years…’ “This loop-hole has to be closed as part of the review” Clare Wells said.
“We look forward to engaging with the ministry through the consultation process and look forward to a shift in policy direction for home-based services that is first and foremost about young children.