UNICEF report card highlights New Zealand’s parental leave and ECE shortfalls
The Families Commission says New Zealand must do better when it comes to looking after its children and their access to
early childhood education and care.
The Commission welcomes The Child Care Transition report from UNICEF and the issues it raises about New Zealand’s
commitment to providing early childcare services needed by parents and paid parental leave.
Commissioner Lyn Campbell says New Zealand has made some progress on improving access to early childcare education and
extending paid parental leave, but the report shows there is still some way to go before New Zealand can say it is doing
the best possible for families.
The It’s About Time report released by the commission in 2007 recommended that parents get more paid time off work after
a baby is born (including the father) and that parental leave be paid at a higher rate. While there has been
improvement, the full recommendations of the report have not been enacted.
Lyn Campbell says, “The Commission’s recommendations for extending parental leave would benefit families and children
and would help bring New Zealand’s provisions closer to those provided in other developed countries. Parents need time
to bond with a new baby without worrying about money or future career prospects. They need real choice about when to go
back to work, and who will take time out of the workforce to care for the baby.
The Commission also has a report looking at access to early childcare education for the children of parents working
outside standard hours.
Lyn Campbell says: “Our work into access to early childhood education and care in New Zealand shows that although it is
accessible and working for many families, there are those whose needs are not being met by childhood service providers.
For example, our report on parents working outside the standard hours clearly shows parents have difficulty in getting
children to and from care outside the regular 7.30am to 5.30pm ECE service hours. This adds to the normal family
stresses these families have to deal with.”
The Families Commission would like to see early childhood education providers consider how they can work with parents to
improve access to childcare outside normal hours.
Lyn Campbell said, “We should not forget that there are early childcare centres that have introduced innovative services
which compliment young children’s education. Centres such as Te Aroha Noa in Palmerston North, Victory School in Nelson
and others around New Zealand are good examples of family and community hubs that are working to engage the whole family
in the learning development of their young children.”