Early childhood leaders fear the Government is using low quality education in its $92 million attempt to boost participation by children in poor communities.
The Early Childhood Council and the Childcare Association say many of the 4000 under-fives the scheme has enrolled since late 2010 are in playgroups or home-based care where there is little contact with qualified teachers.
The groups say it is great the Government has enrolled so many children, but are worried about the quality of some of the initiatives it is using. They say playgroups might not be as good as services with qualified teachers, and the quality of home-based provision is variable.
The Ministry of Education says the playgroups are based on a model with proven success, and the home-based scheme requires weekly contact with a qualified teacher, which is more than the minimum requirement of one visit per month.