2 Jun 2011

Warning of early childhood education costs

10:10 am on 2 June 2011

A member of the Government's early childhood taskforce is warning its funding recommendations will leave middle-income families out of pocket.

The Early Childhood Taskforce, which published its final report on Wednesday, recommended axing the universal 20-hours subsidy and targetting funding to high priority groups.

The report says the Government should pay more for under-two-year-olds, children with special needs, and those from Maori, Pacific Island or low-income families.

It expects that will mean lower subsidies for enrolments by children from middle- and high-income families.

A taskforce member, Anne Smith, says without extra money the move would raise fees for middle- and high-income families.

She says overseas experience indicates that could have negative effects with some middle-income families missing out on early childhood education.

She says the Government should adopt the new system only if it can afford to do so without cuts.

ABC Learning Centres chief executive Rob Facer says there is a demand by parents for high quality early childhood education and the recommendatins are not likely to change that.

Teacher salaries

The NZ Childcare Association, which represents community pre-schools, says it is puzzled by the taskforce's recommendation that early childhood teachers' salaries should be determined by the market.

Chief executive Nancy Bell told Morning Report a great deal of public money goes into the sector and should be used where it will make a difference to children.

Ms Bell says good salaries mean good quality teachers.