INDEPENDENT NEWS

Officials confirm "Free 20 Hours" will miss target

Published: Tue 5 Oct 2004 08:37 AM
Officials confirm "Free 20 Hours" will miss the target
Matt Robson's criticism of Treasury's opposition to the Government's "Free 20 hours early childhood education" shows his complete lack of understanding of a policy which funds wealthy children in community centres at higher rates than poor children in private centres.
"Mr Robson's position defies all logic and any rationale" said Mrs Thorne, Chief Executive Officer, Early Childhood Council.
Matt Robson claims the Progressive's support universal funding over targeted funding.
"The Progressives clearly do not understand that Trevor Mallard's ideologically driven, anti-private "Free 20 hours early childhood education" is targeted funding. Not targeted on the basis of need however, but targeted instead to the children attending community centres, regardless of their family circumstances" said Mrs Thorne.
Against officials' advice, from 1 April 2007 the government will discriminate against the 25,000 3 - 4 year olds who attend private education and care centres by excluding them from the additional funding.
"Matt Robson might be under the delusion that only children from wealthy families attend private centres but this is quite incorrect" said Mrs Thorne.
70% of children from low income families in all day education and care centres attend private centres.
"Sadly many of the families in the most need of this additional funding support will miss out" said Mrs Thorne.
Free 20 hours ECE
* discriminates against 3 and 4 year olds who attend private enterprise services because the "free" is available only to children attending community-based services
* discriminates against families in regions where there is no access to a community centre
* funds the children of wealthy parents in a community centre at a higher rate than poor children in a private centre
* is anti-business, threatening the viability of the services that provide the majority of education and care for the children of working parents, by making them uncompetitive
* reimburses funding to the centre based on the average national cost with no top up fees allowed to be charged, and as a result the 50% of community centres whose costs are higher than the average will need to lower their costs (and their quality) or increase fees for younger age groups or for hours attended over 20 to remain viable
* is inconsistent with the Minister for Social Development and Employment's current childcare subsidy policy which does not discriminate against low income families who choose private centres for their children
* is in conflict with other stated Government policies which seek to improve quality, participation and access to early childhood education and to support people with dependent children to move into work and to remain connected to the labour market
* will ultimately reduce choice and access to early childhood education for New Zealand families.

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