ChildForum is in the Office of Pre-Primary Education and Childcare.
ChildForum is a national body that encompasses all early childhood services and a research organisation.
Founded in 1988 to support the development of a research culture and an evidence-based approach to ECE, ChildForum expanded to become a national body and is today the go-to organisation on all matters to do with early childcare and education.
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.
What ChildForum does:
1. We advocate for safe and high quality care and education for children prior to starting school.
2. We keep members of the ECE sector, public agencies and stakeholders up-to-date and informed of issues, news, and research.
3. We 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.
4. We have the biggest knowledge base on early childhood education and care practice and policy in NZ and are continually growing our knowledge base.
ChildForum provides leadership to the sector. We identify issues, ask the hard questions that others may be afraid to ask, and inspire change that benefits children, teaching staff, service owners - and society.
We are non-partisan and do not subscribe to any political group or support any part of the sector over any other. Members include early childhood services, and individuals from a variety of organisations and interests including researchers, teacher educators, health specialists and policy analysts.
To achieve an open and transparent early childhood education system with services that delight parents and caregivers, and are safe for children, high quality, affordable, and accessible.
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.
It's all on our website, in one place, and at your fingertips!