12 Sep 2012

Early childhood teachers support benefit docking

4:54 pm on 12 September 2012

Early childhood teachers are cautiously supporting the Goverment's plan to dock welfare benefits of people who fail to enrol their three and four-year-olds in early childhood education.

However, they warn that some parents will not be able to find or afford a place in an early childhood service.

Early childhood leaders say some parents need a push to get their children into a playgroup, creche or kindergarten.

They say the policy will provide that push and help the children who most need early childhood education.

But they also say there are often no early childhood services in poor communities and some charge fees that beneficiaries cannot afford.

The Government says it accepts that cost and availability can be genuine barriers to attendance and it will not penalise parents who have taken reasonable steps to enrol their child. It does not know how many children will be enrolled as a result of the policy.

The manager of a trust providing early childhood education in poor communities says children will benefit from plans to dock the parents' benefits.

Grace Ikiua says young children need early learning experiences, but some families are not accessing them - even when they are free.