ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education and Childcare
The biggest knowledge base on early childhood education and care relevant to New Zealand
A transparent and open early childhood education system with services that are safe for children, high quality, affordable, accessible, and make a positive difference to the lives of children and parents/ caregivers.
There are more than 4,000 licensed early childhood services in NZ. Early childhood education covers the age range of birth to the date of the child's entry to primary school or the child's sixth birthday - whatever comes first.
$1.8 billion per year in taxpayer money is spent on subsidies to the early childhood sector. Very few services are publicly owned (less than 2%). While government support of private ownership has been good to increase the supply of services it has also meant that outside of meeting Education Regulations, standards are largely left to individual operators to set and quality can be more variable.
We work to:
1. Advocate for safe and high quality care and education for children prior to starting school.
2. Keep members of the ECE sector, public agencies and stakeholders up-to-date and informed of issues, news, and research.
3. Support ECE services with expert advice and articles written in Plain Language on the full range of areas including: management, funding and financial matters, policies, teaching and learning, working with families, childcare practices and child health.
ChildForum provides leadership in identifying issues, asking the hard questions that others may be afraid to ask and inspiring positive change for the benefit of children and our sector.
We are non-partisan and membership-based - funded through membership fees. Members include people from a variety of organisations and interests including researchers, teacher educators, health specialists and policy analysts. ECE services are expected to fully comply with licensing standards and meet the Code of Ethical Conduct for ECE Services and the Code of Rights for Children
Thank you for your interest in ChildForum. We hope you too want the best for young children and our early childhood sector.
Dr Sarah Alexander - Senior Researcher and ChildForum CEO
Sarah is a recognised expert in child development and quality early childhood education and care.
She is passionate about making a difference for children and she brings a strong intellect and deeply caring approach to all that she does. One thing she values highly is the capacity to provide independent, personal support to help families, teachers and those she can to get better outcomes for children.
She has a remarkable depth and breadth of experience, in early childhood teaching, ECE management and business support, training student teachers, academia, international speaking, writing, publishing and event organisation.
Her achievements are many. When asked to name what she considers to be the five most significant achievements she said:
- Uncovering and placing a public spotlight on issues impacting on children, parents and teachers at the Auckland Kindergarten Association resulting in a halt of its planned programme to change all kindergartens to 7-hour day year-round childcare services and resulting in an overhaul of its management to go back to being truly community-based.
- Requesting transparency from the Ministry of Education in its handling of complaints against ECE services and placing pressure on it through Official Information Act requests and talking with journalists and media agencies about this, leading to the ministry moving to make available an annual report summarising complaints and serious incidents which while not enough for transparency is at least a significant move forward.
- Building public and sector awareness of gender-bias in ECE. This includes doing the first study on the experiences of male early childhood teachers in the wake of the Christchurch Civic Centre and Wellington hospital sex abuse cases. Developing the concept of a Men in Early Childhood Education support group, bringing together male teachers throughout the country to meet each other for the very first ECE Men's Summit, leading to the formation of what is known today as EC-Menz. Writing about and advocating for gender balance in the ECE workforce over the past 20 or so years and going forward until such time as at least 10 percent of the workforce are male.
- Holding NZEI, the teachers' union, to account for its no-touch policy and successfully arguing that there was a place for touch in caring for children in early childhood education programmes, leading to the NZEI modifying its stance and virtual abolition of the policy.
- As a Ph.D. student from Dunedin, being at the forefront internationally in the late 1980s of the development of a new way of looking at what quality in ECE is and having her work recognised alongside that of the top names in the world for ECE research.
Sarah's career started early. She had just turned 19 when appointed to a head kindergarten teacher position. Her qualifications include: Ph.D. in ECE, M.A. (hons) degree, B.A. degree, Higher Diploma of Teaching, Kindergarten Diploma, and Montessori Diploma (dist) London.
Sarah's research areas have included the effects of childcare on children, education for gifted children, women and work, breastfeeding-friendly ECE services, defining and assessing quality in early childhood services, and men in teaching. Sarah is the author of the Ministry of Education's Best Evidence synthesis on "Quality Teaching: Early Foundations" and reports on the Parents as First Teachers Programme.
She is also a parent with five children and a former middle distance and marathon runner.
Reg Ponniah - Managing Editor
Formerly a senior journalist/sub-editor with the New Zealand Press Association, Reg brings with him substantial experience in editing and writing for print media as well as editing academic papers and theses.
He has been part of the ChildForum team for many years, greatly helping ChildForum maintain a high standard as an independent voice and network for early childhood education.
Dr Wendy Boyd - Journal Editor
Dr Wendy Boyd has 25 years experience teaching children in early childhood education and managing programmes. She has worked at Southern Cross University in New South Wales since 2009. In 2011 she won the Vice Chancellor's Citation Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Wendy has a strong academic publication record and is a highly respected researcher and research adviser.
She is also well regarded in the early childhood field and an advocate for high quality early childhood education and care for children and their families.
Editorial Board members 2019
Dr Kaye Cederman (Trinity College, Dublin)
Dr Elspeth McInnes (University of South Australia, Adelaide)
Prof Pam Whitty (University of New Brunswick, Canada)
Tui Summers (Te Rito Maioha, NZ)
Dr Jo Ailwood (University of Newcastle, New South Wales)
Dr Carla Solvason (University of Worcester, UK)
Dr Qilong Zhang (Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, NZ)
Gillian Postlewaight (Eastern Institute of Technology, NZ)
Helen Mataiti (University of Canterbury, NZ)
Dr Chris Jenkin (Auckland University of Technology, NZ)
Nicola Watson (University of Worcester, UK)
What you will find on our website
On our website you will find practical advice, policy guidance, the latest news, original research and analysis.
There are articles you won't find anywhere else on a wide range of subjects to assist you in your own research or studies, teaching and caring for young children, operating an ECE business, and making sense of policy and legal requirements.
We are proud to host the NZ public discussion forum on early childhood education, enabling greater sharing of experiences and recommendations between people and services in the sector.
It's all on our website, in one place, and at your fingertips!
The beginning - a brief history
The NZ Early Childhood Research Network was founded in 1998 and quickly grew its membership to just over 1,000 researchers and people interested in early childhood research.
In the same year the first issue of the NZ Research in Early Childhood Education Journal was published by the Network (today this is known as the NZ-International Research in ECE Journal and is published by ChildForum) .
In 2008 the research network became known as ChildForum, and in August 2010 ChildForum expanded its expertise to provide information and support on childcare and teaching, and early childhood service management. Click on the original video below to learn more about ChildForum in the early days.