Dr Sarah Alexander
11 July 2018
A report on the number and broad nature of complaints received against early childhood education services and upheld during 2017 was released today (11 July 2018) by the Ministry of Education.
Information was also released today on the parents’ website www.myece.org.nz on services that failed to meet operating standards in 2016 and services that were closed for licence breaches.
For the past six years ChildForum early childhood national organisation has worked on encouraging public reporting by the Ministry of complaints, particularly complaints of a serious nature and complaints upheld. The Ministry responded and has released a complaint summary annually.
The Ministry’s latest report for the 2017 year shows it received 339 complaints against services, a slight increase from 2016 when 331 complaints were received. This represents around 5 percent of all services.
Dr Sarah Alexander chief executive of ChildForum says that the 2017 complaints report provides more details and analysis than the Ministry has given before.
“The Ministry is making definite improvements in its level of reporting. It has also shown it is now more willing to investigate complaints”, Dr Alexander says.
“Still however at least some complainants are referred back to the service concerned and this would appear to result in complainants dropping their complaint. The Ministry could be supporting complainants better and recognise that a complainant may not in all cases feel safe or comfortable to do so.”
Dr Alexander questions why services are not identified when a complaint of a serious nature is upheld
“The Ministry maintains secrecy where it can, on any dangers and problems at services. Unless a complainant takes their story to the media, parents’ are usually none the wiser about the conditions they may be placing their child in at a service.
“The lack of openness tarnishes the good reputation of other services in the sector and the Ministry is not monitoring standards closely through unannounced or announced yearly inspections”, says Dr Alexander
Parents can however now find out what services are known to have breached minimum standards of operation at My ECE.
It is stated on the My ECE website page that the purpose of the information release is to support parents to make informed choices and uphold the accountability of services to parents and families.
“If an early childhood service is shown as having breached regulations ask it to explain what it did wrong and the improvements that have been made.
“Transparency and accountability are cornerstones of providing a quality service for children and families”.
The names of services identified by the Education Review Office and/or the Ministry of Education to have failed in meeting minimum standards of operation, the names of services placed on a provisional licence and the names of services closed by the Ministry due to non-compliance