INDEPENDENT NEWS

Extra ECE spending, targeting families in need

Published: Thu 20 May 2010 02:21 PM
Extra ECE spending, targeting families in need
The Government will spend an extra $107 million on early childhood education in 2010/11 and ensure these services are available to families in most need, Education Minister Anne Tolley says.
The Budget allocation will increase the Government’s annual investment in ECE to $1.3 billion.
“Our priority is making early childhood education accessible in communities where children are missing out,” Mrs Tolley says. “ECE provides a strong foundation for learning and we want these children to have the best possible start in life.
“Government spending on early childhood education has almost trebled in the last five years, but we need to improve participation by families who need it the most.”
Funding will continue for 20 Hours ECE and a $46.7 million cost adjustment over four years will help providers meet increasing costs and reduce the need for fee increases.
New funding of $91.8 million over the next four years will be invested in five intensive, community-led participation projects in high priority areas. They will be similar to successful existing programmes in Counties Manukau and Tamaki.
“We know Maori and Pasifika children, and children from lower socio-economic areas, benefit most from ECE, but they are the least likely to be involved. That means these children are at a disadvantage before they even get to school,” Mrs Tolley says.
In addition to the participation projects, Government is investing in parent engagement programmes, supported playgroups and support for ECE providers to work more effectively with Maori and Pasifika families.
“In the current constrained fiscal environment, we’ve also had to take into account the escalating costs of ECE to taxpayers,” Mrs Tolley says.
“The taxpayer’s contribution in this sector has risen from $428 million in 2004/05 to $1.17 billion in 2009/10.
“Substantial changes to funding priorities have been made to redirect funding to areas of the greatest need, and manage the rapidly rising costs as more children spend more time in ECE,” Mrs Tolley says.
“From February 2011, ECE centres will receive financial incentives to increase the proportion of their staff who are registered teachers to 80 per cent. The 80-100 per cent category will be removed, bringing funding in line with the Government’s target of 80 per cent registered teachers by 2012.
“In addition, Budget 2010 defers plans to lift the six-hour daily limit on 20 Hours ECE.
“The combination of additional funding for participation initiatives and the changes made to funding rates will result in expected savings of almost $280 million over four years, and will help fund cost pressures from the expected increase in attendance at ECE.
“Budget 2010 funding shows that Government values quality early childhood education and the contribution it makes to a good start for our children’s education,” Mrs Tolley says.
“We also want it to provide value for money for taxpayers and make sure it can be accessed by those families who are not currently taking part, but who will benefit the most.”
ENDS

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