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Early Childhood Education Sentiment Survey for June 2013

 

“Sigh of Relief over the Budget” 

Improvement in the early childhood education sector is expected by only around 10% of respondents surveyed in June and this response has not changed from the May survey, but fewer now think the sector is going to worsen in the coming year.

In early May 2013 a net 45.6% said it would worsen compared to a net 27.4% in early June 2013.  So, while overall people expect the sector to worsen these figures show the level of pessimism has decreased over the past month. 

In fact it looks like in early May it wasn’t so much that respondents expected things would worsen, it was that they feared the Budget to be released later in the month could bring worse news than it actually did.  However, as the results of this June survey show, the news it did bring was not sufficient to increase the proportion of respondents who expect the sector to improve in the coming year.

While a significant Budget announcement was that Government funding to early childhood education will be increased to $1.5 billion, the overall view of respondents is that the Government is still failing to support the sector to maintain and improve standards.  There seems to be cynicism about the Government reporting it is investing in “quality ECE” when the reality as it is perceived and experienced by respondents is mostly something else. Operators are making decisions to, for example, reduce staffing to the bare minimum, pack more children into their centres, run longer sessions, and employ less well-qualified staff.  For some operators business comes first and making such decisions are a logical response to changing funding and economic conditions and a need to offer cheaper prices than competitors to attract new child enrolments, while for others children come first and lowering standards is not something they want to do.  It is the small private owner-operated and community-based services and those who want to maintain higher than minimum standards of care for children who say they are most at risk from the competitive and difficult financial conditions.    

Meanwhile, a possibility of a schism developing between home-based and centre-based services is indicated, with the home-based sector feeling that it is being pitted against the centre-based sector for the funding dollar.  And, Playcentre continues to be left out in the cold by government policy that focuses on the industry of childcare for the provision of child education and is largely oblivious to parents being their own child’s educator.

Among the 10% of respondents who think there will be improvement in the sector the main reason was a perception that more children would be brought into early childhood services, boosting enrolment numbers and income levels (see Appendix 1 for a summary of respondents’ direct comments). The Government making parents on benefits use childcare or lose 50% of their benefit money is something that could support this.  Other reasons for likely improvement included: some increase in funding announced in the Government Budget 2013, the economy picking up and more jobs for parents, and a growing (over-)supply of teachers increasing employer choice of staff. 

Those who do not see a brightening in the outlook for the ECE sector point to old concerns (identified in previous ChildForum surveys) as continuing areas of deterioration.  One of these areas is the general erosion of teacher employment conditions (such as non-contact time and access to professional development) and teacher quality (as employers either want to or feel pushed to decrease the number of staff per children, and employ teachers who do not hold an NZ teaching qualification recognised in ECE).   Staffing and staff quality is today assessed to be a main area of deterioration, because as one respondent explained 50% qualified teachers is now the new expectation in teacher-led centres, down from 100% and next 80% just a few years ago.

From the perspective of most respondents there is nothing positive yet on the horizon to indicate sector improvement in the coming year.  They see operational expenses continuing to increase and less ability to meet these.  A more competitive environment is opening up with more operators expanding the number of child places they offer and new operators opening services while demand for places is not always matching the increased supply. There is a view too that parents are finding it harder to afford to pay fees and optional charges  (as reported also in earlier ChildForum surveys) and some respondents note that parents see ECE as something they should not have to pay for, or pay more for. 

The views respondents expressed as to what is happening in their service or ECE organisation are similar to answers received on the same question in last month’s May 2013 survey (see Appendix 2) which are:

  • increased business competition due to continuing establishment of new ECE services and existing services increasing licence size to accommodate more children,
  • less demand for childcare by families,
  • insufficient funding to meet costs fully, keep fees affordable, and provide high standards,
  • more families struggling and thought to be less able to afford (or accept) fee increases and other charges, and
  • weakening incentives to employ ECE qualified and registered teachers (these two things in turn are seen to have implications for the supply of ECE teacher training options, the job market for graduates, and teachers needing more supervision and support due to lower levels of training).

There are of course, also services (a minority it seems) that due to location or parental demand are doing very well and report full rolls and few problems financially.

Anxiety in regard to possible outcomes of Ministry of Education reviews of ECE funding and the Home-based sector was not expressed much in this month’s survey feedback and this could be because there had been no announcements and respondents were thinking about other things such as the Budget.

Further matters included concerns about possible outcomes of union wage negotiations, the additional work that the Ministry of Education’s new data management system (called ELI) could potentially impose on people, and difficulty in gaining timely access to special education assistance.

A new issue that may emerge for services (home and centre-based) across the country may be whether buildings that house children are likely to be safe in a major earthquake, and can services give parents this assurance?  A respondent whose centre operates from a building attached to a church voiced concern that the landlord may not be in a financial position to do repairs if the building was found unsafe.

 

Background

Childcare, also called early childhood education, is a large, mainly private, and heavily Government subsidised industry in New Zealand. The Government’s total investment in early childhood education in 2013/14 will be $1.5 billion, up from $860 million in 2007/08.  Through funding schemes such as 20-Hours ECE and other mechanisms such as influencing public opinion on the significance and importance of young children getting lots of time in childcare before starting school for their future educational success, the Government actively manipulates consumer behaviour and uptake of services. It also manipulates regulations and funding to exercise influence on ECE providers’ actions such as in regard to roll size, attendance policies, and qualified staff employment.

 

About the Survey

The Early Childhood Education Sentiment Survey developed by the national Early Childhood Network, known as ChildForum, was designed to allow policy makers and decision-makers to understand what is happening at grass-roots level in the early childhood sector and what the negatives and positives are seen to be. The survey allows comparisons among early childhood service business cycles and provides a tool for monitoring developments in the sector and the effects of changes in the regulatory environment, economic conditions, consumer demand and expectations, teacher supply and demand, and government policies and funding.

Members of the early childhood sector find it interesting to read what respondents from various parts of the sector have said and to see if their perceptions and problems are shared by others.

A report on the first Survey, for May 2013, can be found at this link:  http://www.childforum.com/policy-issues/surveys-and-ece-sector-a-family-data

This paper reports on a second survey carried out during the first week of June and sampling 200 respondents involved with the early childhood education sector in New Zealand.

 

Appendix  One:  Respondents’ reasons as to why they think the early childhood sector is likely to improve, worsen or remain the same in the coming year (note that not every respondent provided an explanation)

The view that respondents held in regard to  whether there would be improvement, deterioration, or no change in the sector

Reasons/Explanations

Improvement

   

Welfare reforms, particularly compulsory ECE for 3 year olds plus, will lift the number of enrolments.            

Improvement

   

The new requirement for ECE attendance for beneficiaries.

Improvement

   

More pressure on low income families to enrol their children in daycare from Government.        

Improvement

   

More money was in the government budget for education. Government focus on quality means services providing poor quality and poor ratios will be under a spotlight.     

Improvement

   

Positive thinking and more evidence of ECE importance for preschool children.           

Improvement

   

No drop in the Budget.  More qualified teachers means more choice for employers.            

Improvement

   

More people working.      

Improvement

   

A little bit of increase in funding.  

Improvement

   

Services having to work smarter to keep roll numbers up.    

Improvement

   

Economy improving.         

Improvement

   

Targeted funding where it is needed. Competition for job makes for better teachers.            

Improvement

   

More children will be attending as there is an increase in awareness.         

Improvement

   

There appears to be an increase in interest for enrolments.

 

Deterioration

 

Tighter funding.

 

Deterioration

 

Rising costs and minimal increase in funding. The frequent absence rules are often hard to administer as parents feel awkward being accountable and therefore don’t come.

 

Deterioration

 

Government funding cuts.

 

Deterioration

 

Child care enquiry has really dropped off. More and more centres are opening.

 

Deterioration

 

Costs go up less money to go round.

 

Deterioration

 

People are not teaching anymore, they don’t care.

 

Deterioration

 

The Government keeps altering the playing field and a lot of the goal posts that they move are not something that a centre can immediately respond to.

 

Deterioration

 

Budget constraints – our purse strings are tighter.

 

Deterioration

 

The funding cuts have hit us hard - we have been able to cope until now, but now we are in survival mode.

 

Deterioration

 

Changes to welfare reforms in July/ Social Obligation Act.

 

Deterioration

 

High stress levels amongst staff dealing with funding and quality staffing issues; lack of provision for Professional Development for all settings.

 

Deterioration

 

Parents are forced into decisions on childcare.

 

Deterioration

 

Too many unqualified teachers.

 

Deterioration

 

Funding cuts.

 

Deterioration

 

Budget 2013 - effectively another funding cut as increase is below CPI.

 

Deterioration

 

Too many centres popping up, not enough children to go around all centres.

 

Deterioration

 

Many ECE graduates can’t find work at centres. As a result, there are less people enrolling for teacher training courses.

 

Deterioration

 

Fees will have to increase because there was no increase in basic funding.

 

Deterioration

 

Ministry staff are unsure of the new regulations. The ERO and Ministry staff have different opinions.

 

Deterioration

 

Operating costs are increasing. The increase to funding rates at the recent budget announcement is very small and insufficient to cover rising costs over the coming year and going forwards. Parents are more reluctant than ever to pay any fees even for quality. Most are looking to pay no or very low fees which does not help high quality centres sustain themselves.

 

Deterioration

 

Larger production-line childcare centres will continue to grow and smaller centres will struggle to compete and keep roles full. The minimal funding increase will not help small struggling centres to break even.

 

Deterioration

 

The financial conditions are squeezing out small centres, particularly community-based.

 

Deterioration

 

Lack of cohesion within the ECE sector.  It seems that adversity is being created between home-based and centre-based providers.  Also, a new competitiveness with too many centres in some areas.

 

Deterioration

 

Government is too concerned about making quick money by cutting funding than looking after the future generations.

 

Deterioration

 

Not enough funding in low Decile areas.

     

Finances - due to less money and higher costs.

 

Deterioration

 

Finance and our situation in Christchurch.

 

Deterioration

 

Less funding.  School rolls dropping which results in more primary teachers working in early childhood.

 

Deterioration

 

Too many centres are opening in already over populated areas putting pressure on enrolments.

 

Deterioration

 

An over-supply of centres.

 

Deterioration

 

Things will get worse due to governmental policy changes.

 

Deterioration

 

The government is reallocating money to lower Decile centres and forgetting about the centres currently carrying the costs of Pacific and Maori children already attending their centres.

 

Deterioration

 

The general economy.  New ECE service competition in the town.

 

Deterioration

 

Lack of funding for the essentials - no cost of living increase for the past couple of years.

 

Deterioration

 

The closure of schools around NZ does not provide a lot of optimism or hope, along with the complete lack of knowledge and correct information provided by the overstaffed Ministry of Education.

 

Deterioration

 

Lack of government funding while staff wages continue to increase.

 

Deterioration

 

Home-based is becoming a huge part of the care options in the ECE sector and is expected to provide a quality standard yet its funding is the least.

 

Deterioration

 

Lack of funding.  The move away from choice for sessional licensing towards more all day centres, even kindergartens - due to being able to access more funding.

 

Deterioration

 

Big corporate baby farms opening everywhere.  

 

Deterioration

 

Financial stresses.

 

Deterioration

 

National government agendas for education.

 

Deterioration

 

Incoming revenue versus outgoing expenses.

 

Deterioration

 

The economy.

 

Deterioration

 

Increasing family strains. On-going lack of funding to support families. Lack of resources coupled with increased expectations.

 

Deterioration

 

No account for inflation in the Budget.

 

Deterioration

 

Rising costs associated with general operations and staffing costs.

 

Deterioration

 

I have reals concerns about the quality of teaching that I see when I'm visiting centres.

 

Deterioration

 

Clarity of this government's intention for the ECE sector would alleviate any concerns we have.  Their preferred method of communication appears to be in continual funding cuts for our sector, i.e. the recent Budget.

 

Deterioration

 

Funding cuts for professional development and professional hands on support.  Overseas trained teacher lack of understanding of our NZ curriculum and lack of understanding of child development.

 

Deterioration

 

Due to not enough funding and lack of qualified teachers because the centre licensees/owner hired more unqualified teachers to save $$$ thus making it more business rather than quality learning and development or education for children.

 

Deterioration

 

Dumbing down of the sector.  Employment conditions are being pushed down.

 

Deterioration

 

The Government does not value or see the importance of ECE and its long term impact on education, nor does it value what we do.  The introduction of a limited licence to teach is a clear indicator of this.  This move also signals the potential for services like kindergartens to be removed from the public sector, as well as impacting those who are qualified - could there come a day when the current 80% registered teacher funding rate is even less or non-existent?

 

Deterioration

 

Smaller community centres feeling the pressure from corporate competition.

 

Deterioration

 

The National Government still in power.

 

Deterioration

 

Given lots more centres are opening, and being issued licences as long as they comply with regulations, more private centres are going to find themselves facing lots of challenges they will need to overcome.

 

Deterioration

 

Harder for centres to run effectively (financially) and maintain quality.  Harder for parents to live in the current environment and access quality care.

 

Deterioration

 

The current government seems to be determined to make cuts in as many government funded areas as they possibly can. I think they will continue on this path and this will see more cuts to ECE in the future.

 

Deterioration

 

The funding cuts are now beginning to affect us seriously. Fewer enrolments are evident in due part to corporate childcare centres.

 

Deterioration

 

1st reason: Government proposals for potential professional development providers - we have done extensive training with a provider we want to do more with but could potentially have to do this with another provider thereby stunting our development. 2) I'm concerned with home-based services and the lack of training for their educators/nannies. I feel they should have the same levels of training that I have and I think that as they work by themselves this is even more important.  3) Government bringing in compulsory attendance for beneficiary children – but should not quality centres be in place first before this policy is brought in? And by quality I mean the quality that these children deserve and need.

 

Deterioration

 

Too many centres in localities where there aren't enough children.

 

Deterioration

 

Increasing wages and fewer staff - stressed and exhausted.

 

Deterioration

 

More parents are not paying the ECE optional charge.

 

Deterioration

 

Lack of new enrolments.

 

Deterioration

 

No increase in funding.

 

Deterioration

 

I would be hopeful to say better or same.  I believe more focus should be on the early childhood sector in terms of improvements in all areas.

 

Deterioration

 

Our costs are increasing and no extra funding to help for two years running.

 

Deterioration

 

An over-supply of childcare spaces to children.

 

Deterioration

 

More centres opening and over-saturating the market rather than in specific areas of need. Fewer trained educators in centres. Less funding for qualified educators, which waters down quality and meaningful learning experiences for children.

 

Deterioration

 

Funding concerns.

 

Deterioration

 

Costs keep going up, no extra funding and parents can’t afford to pay more.

 

Deterioration

 

More compliance work from the Ministry of Education for little or no gain to us.

 

Deterioration

 

The costs of running centres outweigh funding.

 

Deterioration

 

Winter months - more money for heating needed, sick children, stressed parents and caregivers, roads become an issue in Christchurch and tempers are frazzled.

 

Deterioration

 

Funding and the flow on effects of this on teacher’s non-contact, and non-teaching staff positions such as teacher-aide and admin staff.

 

Deterioration

 

Competition from large corporations coming into our sector and under-cutting smaller centres.

 

Deterioration

 

Market saturation and affordability.

 

Deterioration

 

Funding cuts are biting.

 

Deterioration

 

More centre opening and less funding.

 

Deterioration

 

Government decisions regarding ECE, funding for students, and the future of teacher education.

 

Deterioration

 

We did not receive enough funding to cover the cost of living increases that have affected us over the last few years, it is getting tighter so cuts are made that affect quality. We have had to put up our fees again to retain our quality care and education.

 

Deterioration

 

Trying to do more with less!

 

Deterioration

 

Economics.

 

Deterioration

 

Government funding is not keeping up with rising costs of providing care which means a constant decline in quality.

 

Deterioration

 

The negative impact that unqualified teachers are having on the quality of care and education of children and families.  Centres are using 50% as a target for qualified staff.

 

Deterioration

 

Increased fees due to lack of increased funding.

   

Stay the same

It will be working conditions, staff pay, professional development, costs to parents (etc.) that will continue to be difficult to maintain.

   

Stay the same

No changes for ECE in Government's new Budget.

   

Stay the same

I think the outcomes from the Budget will mean that things will look the same for a while.

   

Stay the same

It will be the same as usual for average centres.  Lower socio-economic services will probably be better off.

   

Stay the same

There have been no significant changes announced in the Budget to indicate a change for the better or worse.

   

Stay the same

Actually I'm not really sure - next year is election year and anything goes!

   

Stay the same

Our centre is full. Staff are stable and available for work.

   

Stay the same

I guess it depends if you are a private or public service, as funding and staffing difficulties can be challenging.

   

Stay the same

We are all waiting for the ECE review announcements.

   

Stay the same

Funding has remained the same.  Numbers are tracking at the same level.  Staffing is consistent.

   

Stay the same

The Government will report ECE is getting better because of the $ investment in the sector.

   

Stay the same

Post Budget - the impact of assistance offered or lack thereof has not become evident to stakeholders yet.

   

Stay the same

I have not heard of any plans for change in the next few months to change my view.

   

Stay the same

In our area, job losses and lack of employment opportunities pose the greatest threat.  More families are opting to just do the 20 hours ECE funded.

   

Stay the same

It will be interesting to see how changes like social welfare changes to attendance requirements affect ECE business. Even free food in schools will have an impact in some way.

   

Stay the same

I hope things will not get worse but it depends on the economy and roll growth.

   

Stay the same

Costs and competition is still rising, income isn't increasing which means we are still working in a negative economic climate.

   

Stay the same

While there are some positives in the economy of the country I do not see this having a great impact on childcare unless it has a positive effect on employment.

   

Stay the same

Latest ERO reports on Mathematics, Te Whaariki, etc (2013) makes it clear where ECE accountabilities are.  ECE teachers now have a licence to teach using the top end pedagogies.

   

Stay the same

No funding increase.  The number of enrolments will stay about the same.

   

Stay the same

Will stay the same as long as there are no changes to funding etc., for the time being.

   

Stay the same

If the government’s focus is on participation it has to ensure that centres survive and do not close so that there is a place for children to go to.

   

Stay the same

I think the market has stopped being so saturated and things should stay level for a while.

   

Stay the same

We need more funding in order to extend professional development and non-contact time for staff

 

Appendix  Two:  What respondents say is happening in their ECE services and organisations

A summary of respondents’ direct comments are provided below under the headings of:

  1. External and community matters
  2. Positive internal ECE service or organisational matters
  3. Negative internal matters.

 

1. External and Community Matters

Union Awards

  • Teachers are in discussion at the moment with NZEI [teachers’ union] discussing wage increases.  It would be a concern if there was no increase from Government to cover these wage increases.
  • The upcoming negotiations by NZEI for the Collective Employment agreement are a worry. As it is now, it is already very unsustainable. Any more increases will kill us [our service] off.

Data Reporting to the Ministry of Education

  • The Ministry of Education’s new data system [ELI] is going to add at least six hours per week to our workload to input the data the Ministry wants and there will be no benefit to children other than the Government getting more control on how money is spent.  We do not believe that giving each child a student number is going to protect vulnerable children better – it is just going to ensure that families are not double dipping on funding [to be paid to services].
  • The demand of the Ministry’s ELI system on our parent-led centre volunteers is a huge worry.

Community Awareness of Earthquake Proofing Buildings

  • We are a community-based kindergarten attached to a church. A big concern for us is the earthquake checks on buildings as the church (our landlord) may not be in a position to make the necessary repairs. What would this mean for our future on this site?
  • Because we are in Christchurch we are ever adapting to operational changes and close work with our community.  In next three months we move into the major earthquake repair stage.

Public Funding of New ECE Services to Compete with Existing Services

  • We are two community-based centres.  A new ECE has been built two houses along from one of our centres, a CMPP centre. This new centre near ours received TAP funding. I believe this is not an efficient use of government money when there are local areas without ECE buildings.

Access to Special Education Assistance for Children and Families

  • Our community-based centres have noticed a considerable rise in the number of children with special needs. For example in the last two weeks we have had five children start who have fairly high special needs. While we welcome these children there are limited options for support for them. Group Special Education seems so stretched and not always able to assist - and funding is ALWAYS limited.
  • Preschool: Children between 2-3 years with special needs are in a no man’s land as they do not qualify for teacher aid hours from GSE yet they are clearly displaying the need for help. This means that our staffing is being stretched as they are caring for these children without support.
  • Special Education Service:  Our service is becoming more office-based and less hands-on with our clients.
  • Playcentre: We have concerns in our centre around provisions for high needs children and the lack of resource and support for them. If the emphasis from the Ministry of Education is on inclusion and meeting the needs of at-risk and special needs children, there needs to be more resources available to families and centres to ensure all needs are met.

Teacher Education and Maintaining a Qualified, Registered and High Quality Teaching Workforce

  • One of the changes that we are taking in is to promote ECE teaching in a Maori and Pasifika environment to target Maori and Pasifika early childhood student teachers.
  • Confidence seems to be dropping in our teacher education organisation.
  • Closing down the Te Tari Puna Childcare Association teacher education campus in Henderson is a concern.
  • We are getting fewer students enrolling on our BEd ECE teaching course. Some staff might be made redundant as a result.
  • We are getting fewer applications to start the Bachelor of Teaching early childhood qualification.
  • Lower numbers of applications for teacher education programmes in ECE.
  • I have deep concern regarding the low numbers of applicants for teacher education.
  • We are finding it very hard to draw a line between everything being taught to us in university and incorporating it into practice because what they teach is not everyone's beliefs or values.
  • Pending changes to the Teachers’ Council and increased registration fees? What is that going to do for the outcomes for teachers?

Government Philosophy in its Approach to Funding

  • Increasing numbers of families are suffering from strains which show in the children.  Parents are too stressed and unsure of their role to really know what to do with their children - poor nutrition, poor clothing, poor daily habits such as sleep times etc. Also more children are being raised by other than their parents.
  • Playcentre:  I feel that Government policy is working against us.  The move in social policy is to get parents back working.  Where does Playcentre have a place in this scheme?  How will the introduction of policy for parents on benefits needing to work 15 hours per week fit with the Playcentre model?
  • Attendances are declining due to parents’ perception that their child should be at a teacher-led service or that they may not meet the MSD requirements if they are on a benefit and go to a parent-led service.
  • Murmurings of the Government favouring corporate services over high quality smaller centres? What's with that?
  • How long will government funding be poured into 'targeted' areas before we start hearing of the significant improvements. There have been very little if any reports released on the successes in the targeted geographical or educational targeted areas to show why services placed to provide quality outcomes for children have had to wear the funding shortfalls.
  • We have real concerns about the direction this regime is taking us in.  It is apparent that they place very little value on retaining "quality" services or stand-alone community-based not-for-profit education and care services such as ours.  The preferred option appears to be huge child-barns where 150 children can be squashed in with only 50% qualified teaching staff.   We are continually penalised for providing a quality environment for our tamariki as our funding is continually slashed, i.e. recent budget.
  • Concerns - I always wonder why kindergartens still get higher funding yet often provide educational experiences that have not kept up with latest research.  Kindergartens still have large numbers of children!
  • Home-based service:  Things are financially tight.  We are keeping positive and working through the tough times.  Our main concern is whether home-based services will be next on the Minister’s chopping block.
  • Again – the same as last month as there is still uncertainty about government changes for the home-based sector.  A notice about the review is supposed "to be coming" ... but we haven't seen anything yet.
  • We hope the Government keeps the 20hours subsidy and I would like to see the maximum licence number for under-twos reduced to enhance quality.

Other

  • Home-based service:  We are concerned as some information is being printed by childcare centre lobbyists saying that home-based is less quality and detrimental to children. ECE groups should be working together and the diversity of services should be applauded as it can then meet the need of all children.
  • Centre-led private:  We are concerned about the lack of review for the home-based sector; in particular the lack of training for carers; the fact anybody can visit a carers home with no regard to child safety; and images taken of children are not monitored.
  • The amount of red tape and growing list of mandatory requirements from the Ministry of Education is putting families off from enrolling in home-based care.
  • The ERO and Ministry have different opinions on what we should do.
  • Finally centre expectations are increased by the Ministry and ERO, i.e. we now have to provide better quality literacy and numeracy programmes.
  • Parents are giving children total decision making on what they eat for meals even if it is unhealthy. This change in parenting style is causing us concern.
  • The Ministry could be changing the professional development providers and we would just like to ask the Government why?  As a centre that is getting the development we have not been asked what we think about the providers and as professional educators surely if these providers aren't meeting our needs they wouldn't be in my centre.

 

2. Positive Internal Matters

  • Community-based education and care centre:  We are looking a bit more positive in the next year as we have enrolled a few under-twos. Had a big loss in the last year as staffed for 16 under-twos but only had 5.  It hurt a lot and we had to approach the bank to help with the shortfall.
  • We have more children enrolled this year than in 2012.
  • Childcare centre:  Great - vigorous self-reviews and external PD.
  • The cut in teacher funding means it is harder and this is a roll on effect from the government changes. But, I believe that my organisation is responding well to the changes and I love my job.
  • Home-based and early childhood centre: I go to playgroup with the centre on Thursday and it’s great meeting new teachers and children.
  • Things are getting tighter with money, but that is balanced with better availability of quality staff. I feel we are able to provide a better service in our centre than in the past.
  • We are an early learning centre.  We are getting more working families coming through and our close proximity to new housing development is probably the main reason. Most new enrolments are for under-3s.
  • No changes, our numbers are high with a waiting list and a number of our parents pregnant with a third child.
  • We are tracking very well considering but as a not-for-profit full-day centre, we are going to have to have a major overhaul of our fees, due to basically no change in funding and the increased costs associated with increased administration and the ridiculous funding rules!
  • Teacher-led privately owned childcare: We are busy with under 2s and could fill our baby room a hundred times over.  We have a few days available for the over 2s however.
  • Christian pre-school:  Everything is going really well. Almost running at full enrolment.
  • Things are going along well - things may slow up but that is linked to environmental issues within our area.
  • Kindergarten:  Great support from our national body and from management in the way we are run.
  • We have had more enquiries for ECE in the past month resulting in 3 new enrolments, but a new centre has opened just 1km from here! I hope we can keep our centre full to keep it viable.
  • We are still full with a waiting list.  We have noticed new parents are more discerning which is a good thing in the end.
  • All is good at our service.  While we are in a sound financial position however I can see the challenges appearing as an almost 100% registered teaching team of 30 staff deserve competitive salaries and on-going support with professional learning.
  • Things are very good at our centre.
  • We are an Aoga Amata (Samoan preschool). Things are good but there is room for improvement.  Parents are still struggling financially.
  • It is awesome; we are a family-based centre in a low socio-economic area.
  • We have a much bigger waiting list compared to this time last year.  We are community- based non-profit service.
  • Things are good all considered. We are currently changing to longer session hours because we are competing with another kindergarten, three daycare centres, a preschool and a Kohanga - all who provide longer hours. We struggle a little to impress on parents the philosophical and pedagogical reasons for the hours we currently have.
  • We are holding our own but only just.
  • Community-based not-for-profit:  We are full at present and have a waitlist but are concerned about a new 100 place childcare centre opening 5 minutes away.
  • Privately owned centre: Things are great and numbers seem to be picking up again and we are busy.
  • Teacher-led centre: We are changing to a distributed leadership model with a flat hierarchy.  This calls on all teachers to develop leadership skills and to have areas of responsibility so that all aspects are kept at the forefront for curriculum inclusion.
  • It is pretty much the status quo for us.
  • Community mixed based full-time centre:  We have a huge waiting list which is growing all the time. We are continually turning desperate parents/whanau away or they are waiting between 6 months - 1 year. We now have parents contacting us for a space before attempting to get pregnant. We need to expand but don't have the money to do this. With the government’s proposal for beneficiaries to have to put their children in care we are experiencing even more need and we can't assist them.
  • Much the same.  We are fully booked with a lot more under 2 year-old child enquiries and filling spaces with these.
  • There is better practice happening under new management.
  • Things are going the same, but we never increased our prices after the first budget cut and we may have to soon.  We are a private ECE centre.
  • Our centres are full and continue to have a big waiting list - however we have had to increase our fees again to get by.  We wonder when childcare is going to be too expenses for the average wage earner.
  • Education and care organisation:  We have 98%+ registered teachers in all 5 centres in our organisation. Our budget is tracking well in 4 out of 5 centres following a small fee increase. 1 centre has a dropping roll which is of concern, currently planning open days and marketing initiatives. It is a 3 to 5year old centre and this happens approximately every 2 years.  Staff pay review requests are difficult to manage as we now enter year 2 of a complete salary freeze - with the exception of recognising ECE degree training. We would love to acknowledge our team members but it is simply not viable at present. We have 14 teachers in our PRT Programme which we fund and we have an additional 5 teachers to complete their degree by December 2013. We are committed to maintaining an exceptionally high level of qualified teachers and replacing them with untrained educators is not an option we like.
  • All going very well. We are a community-based, stand-alone Incorporated Society community-based service.
  • Everything remains much the same. Rolls are steady with a waiting list of 12 months. Indicators for us are such that I believe we will continue to do well.
  • We have full rolls and are a new centre so we are still on a high.  The challenges would be that everyone is fighting for the same dollar (donations, funding applications, etc.).
  • Things at my centre appear to be going well. Numbers seem to be down a bit from in the past, i.e., not every day has full enrolments, but some days do. The rolls are stable. Generally, there is no waiting list at any of the centres where I live. I'm employed at a franchised, privately-owned full daycare centre. Most teachers at our centre are fully qualified.
  • All is going well. We have a good staff and our extension to the building is on target. We are enjoying a greater range of interaction with whanau and are finding our feet in providing a greater depth of advice for our families.
  • Home-based service:  We have very high numbers of under 2 year-old children. Our rolls are increasing most weeks.
  • The number of enrolments is up, and we are now fully booked at least one day a week. The nursery has become much busier with few spaces now available on most days.

 

3. Negative Internal Matters

  • Funding drops have meant maintenance to the centre is not getting done and the centre is starting to look shabby – it’s not a good look for new clients.
  • Kindergarten:  We now have younger children attending full-day sessions due to a lower waiting list.
  • We are a community-based service looking at closing at the end of year as we cannot secure another premise in the area.
  • Our adult-child ratio is calculated over the entire property (across all groups of children), which means that saying we have a low child to adult ratio has turned into a joke but it is a serious matter.
  • We are running at a deficit so as a sessional Kindergarten we will increase hours so that more children can attend and we will have mixed-aged sessions. I am concerned about what this means for the delivery of quality education for our tamariki as we run close to the minimum ratios. The teachers are already stretched.
  • Community-based not-for-profit centre: We have not had a significant funding increase for 18 months - in the recent Budget we received approximately $3,000.00.  This will not go anywhere near the increase in costs of running the centre.
  • Financially we are struggling.  The lack of support from the Government is really at the forefront of this problem.
  • We are seeing more and more parent/caregivers struggling to financially meet fees and provide lunches as well as more whanau not able to provide transport to the centre.
  • Too many large chain operations are expanding and competing for our children.
  • We have 20 children with 100 percent qualified teachers. We are just managing now but worry about the future as everything increases in price and funding stagnates. I want to pay my teachers what they deserve and provide a quality service but I am not sure how I will maintain this in, say in 2 years without making our service unaffordable for many.
  • Kindergarten:  Our roll numbers are low.  There is a lot of competition in the area and there are more child spaces than children in this area.
  • Fewer enrolments.
  • Funding is becoming an increasingly worrying situation.  I am finding it very difficult to give my wonderful long serving staff the pay increases they deserve!!!
  • I am worried about having to put up fees to cover rising costs especially wages. Parents are finding things pretty tight.
  • More parents are opting out of the optional charge making it difficult in Home-based for those educators wanting more per hour than what the Government gives.
  • Home-based service: Slow, not full.
  • Home-based service:  We are unsure how any funding changes and making it compulsory for beneficiaries to have their 3 and 4 year olds in care will affect us.
  • More admin work and less non-contact time to do it, due to an increase in child numbers.  All-day privately owned child care centre.
  • It is just a struggle to get long-term proper funding.
  • Home-based: Expenses keep increasing and funding is not keeping up. We can't put prices up as parents can't afford to pay already. Large outside companies are pushing us out. Kindy is offering full-day hours now so our number of over 3's children is decreasing.
  • Private centre, full-day school hours and terms:  Numbers are dropping partly due to financial pressure on parents and also due to other centres opening in the area.  We are looking at reducing staff hours of work to balance the books.
  • We are a small community-based mixed-age centre.  We have 3 provisionally registered teachers on our small team. Although they are all competent teachers, it is difficult finding the time to give them the support they deserve in the centre, and if we were to use external mentors it would put extra financial strain on our centre. It's a concern that many centres may find themselves in a situation where they don't employ the most suitable applicant for positions because they are a PRT and therefore require a different level of professional support.
  • We are finding there are less local professional development opportunities. Small community-based centres cannot always afford to send staff on expensive conferences and those opportunities don't always address the specific needs of individual teachers.
  • Full daycare:  We have too many qualified staff for the amount of money available.
  • With cuts in Government funding and job availability for parents the number of available children to fill spaces is diminishing.  This means organisations are making financial cutbacks.  This affects, maintenance, resource purchase, paid meetings are fewer and shorter, non-contact time is shorter, and registration non-contact time does not exist.  Children are at risk of not receiving quality education and care.
  • Centre-based service:  We have just done a wage review and a few of the staff are dissatisfied with their wage increase despite the fact that in aiming for quality they work to very cushy ratios.
  • We are encouraging out-of-the-box thinking to keep rolls to a maximum and work load is increasing without increased hours to match.  
  • Too much competition in the sector.  The focus is not on education and care but on numbers.
  • How to survive? How to get new children onto the roll?
  • We are committed to quality early childhood education, but we have to look at where we can cut costs without compromising quality or putting our fees up.  We are fortunate that in this career, the passion and dedication for the job ensures that the teachers step up and take up the slack created by ill-thought out Budgets and Government not wanting to invest in this area.
  • Not enough professional development for qualified teachers due to not enough funds.
  • We are a teacher-led service. Funding cuts in the last 4 to 5 years are starting to really make the sector difficult.
  • We can't increase fees to cover CPI - too much competition in our area.  How do we keep absorbing cost increases?  We have already dropped one qualified teacher in each centre, so our staffing is no longer 100% qualified.  Do we cut quality or just get out of the sector?
  • Home-based service:  There are a lot of changes in children’s hours - either the hours are dropping or children are attending another service for part of the day e.g. a kindergarten.  We have vacancies as do all the other ECE services in town.
  • Community-based centre: We now require a new building due to leaky building syndrome.
  • There seems to be more and more emphasis on financials and number of enrolments than ever. Kindergartens in our area are now competitive by opening for daily hours rather than sessional.
  • Private pre-school for children aged 3-5 years:  I have noticed that for the first time in 17 years the roll is not full and I think this is a combination of too many centres being opened in this area that cater for 50 plus children and the economic downturn which has meant some people have lost their jobs or not had their contracts renewed so no longer need childcare. This has an impact on a small centre like mine licensed for 20 children.
  • We are trying to attract new enrolments as half of our children start school this year.
  • We are continually working in a fragile financial environment where outgoings have to be monitored all the time to ensure that our books are balanced at the end of the year, and more importantly we are able to pay our staff. This focus is at the expense of concentrating on a core objective of providing innovative quality education.
  • We have 3 centres, all small and with mixed-ages.  Two are full and one is struggling.
  • Funding lack of – we are a kindergarten.
  • The number of new very large centres being opened in this area is making it hard to for us to keep full rolls and the fact that we have had to increase fees is contributing to this. In the last financial year we made a very worrying loss and this can be directly attributed to the long-term effects of the funding cuts to the top bracket of registered teachers. Our centre believes that children deserve to have trained teachers working with them and with the loss of the 100% funding bracket we have to find other ways to pay teacher salaries and keep our small not-for-profit centre running.
  • A problem is the lack of ability to charge parents for additional costs over and above the six hours a day subsidy.
  • People can't afford to come. Too many people are concerned about academic achievements at an early age rather than building positive relationships, learning how to care for one another and learning through play.
  • The need to increase fees for sustainability which will disadvantage low-income parents who are the very families that the government want to encourage.
  • We have had to decrease staffing numbers over the last year. Roll numbers have dropped due to families moving away from the town due to unemployment.
  • Teacher-led privately owned childcare: We have had difficulty over the past few months recruiting decent teachers to replace long-term staff who moved to Australia. Teachers with no experience and newly qualified are severely lacking in motivation, energy and the ability to interact with children.
  • Outcomes due to how beneficiaries are treated and putting their benefit at risk if they don’t place their child in ECE.  A lot of whanau are still moving away from our small rural communities.
  • Community-based, 5 centres:  Recession impacts are being felt in three centres. All centres are operating at approximately 65% capacity linked to the recession and the Ministry allowing new centres to open when there is no proven need in the local community.
  • Families seem to be more transient, they book in, start then decide to leave or go away for longer than 3 weeks without letting us know.
  • Early learning centre: We encounter difficulties with frequent absence as many of our families for a range of reasons break the rule.
  • Our small town now has 3 all-day centres licensed for 50 children.  This s a mining town reliant on Solid energy employees so there has been a downturn in general.
  • We are a newly reopened preschool after the earthquakes. Re-opened in Oct 2012. We have to rebuild our client base. This is an on-going process.
  • All-day privately owned centre:  With increased competition (lots of new centres being licensed around us) and less funding, things are getting tighter in terms of affording professional development and new resources.
  • We are a home-based service growing very fast and this is making it financially hard due to the length of time between each funding payment period.
  • We have spaces available for infants and toddlers.
  • Our concern - funding is not equivalent to inflation.
  • Lack of funding is putting more pressure on any budget we can have.
  • We are a private teacher-led organisation: We have fewer children due to job losses and shorter hours. Also too many new centres have been allowed to open.
  • Privately owned early childhood centre: It's not good at the moment because of our lack of registered teachers. There aren’t enough resources due to lack of funding.
  • Preschool centre:  Far too much politics involving hierarchy of staff.
  • We are only about 60% full. We have a fairly high staff turnover. Lots of staff absences. Morale is generally ok though worried about our increasing number of unqualified staff.
  • Full-day education and care centre:  Low roll, few inquiries and income is not enough to fund major maintenance.  We are not replacing teachers who have left.  This is the first time in years that we've had no waiting list.
  • Restructuring may be necessary and there will be a loss of jobs.  Funding is not sufficient to purchase quality resources and maintain our existing premises. The waiting list and roll numbers are down.
  • We are shedding staff to try to save money.
  • Not-for-profit centre:  There is less and less funding and therefore not enough money for trained registered teachers.
  • We have lots of concern around the loss of funding and much competition for children among ECE services.
  • ECE centre:  Parents are finding it harder to pay for childcare plus it’s harder for families to live with the cost of food becoming an issue.
  • Since the changes in funding our centre has struggled with the drop in funding money. Previously we were able to employ a teacher aide who helped with cleaning and nappy changing. Our ratio of teachers to children was also well above current requirements. Since the changes we have had to cut back on staffing and have lost our teacher aide. Money has become a huge issue at our centre. Non-qualified relievers are now preferred over qualified staff because they cost less. Our budget for resources has also dropped.
  • We are currently in the process of cutting back a part-time position from 26 hours to 10.25 and we are giving serious thought to employing an untrained teacher. This is not a situation we want to be in.
  • Very few new entrants are enrolling to replace the five-year-olds leaving the centre.
  • Lots of part-time staff raise our operating costs. Sometimes the best staff are parents!
  • Too many inexperienced staff are being employed.  This affects the quality of care.
  • More unqualified staff at work, both permanent and relievers.  Less professional development is available for staff and staff are expected to do this unpaid and in their own time.  Government money instead is being channelled to increase participation for Pasifika whanau but this won't make much of a difference as they still won't attend or will be sporadic in attendance.
  • We are now asking parents to pay their home-based educator directly to save the cost of processing payment.
  • We are losing children who are going to school and they are not being replaced by new enrolments.  Also we cannot compete against the Free Kindergarten when parents think that 6 hours free education with a ratio of 1:15 is better than the session that we offer which is 4.5 hours with a ratio of 1:7 (for over 3 year olds).  We have even waived our fee of $35.00 per week for these parents but they just see free education.  We are contemplating reducing staff hours or making one staff member redundant - which is a real shame and we do not want to do this but we have no option. We are only a small centre licenced for 35 and we are privately owned (full day and sessional), birth to 5 years.  We cannot compete against the bigger commercial centres that offer 50% discounts, etc.
  • We are a full-day centre struggling to keep its head above the water
  • Sessional kindergarten:  Our rolls are not quite full.
  • Concerns over relicensing expectations in regards to programme planning are top of our list at present. It seems our expectations are different from other centres.
  • We have to be very careful with money and the only way to really cut costs is to watch our staffing ratios which can be frustrating when you need to send relievers home or when some children need extra attention.
  • Centre-based care:  Occupancy remains consistent but not to capacity.  We are concerned about the saturation of the market with centres and this having an impact on waiting lists, etc.
  • Numbers are down especially in the under 2 area and the most common reason is the cost of childcare verses the earnings of the parent/caregiver.
  • Community-based service:  Reduced funding has led to lower staffing levels. We are working with minimum staffing levels on the floor.
  • We have low numbers and are looking for more clients.
  • We are a full-day licensed centre which has been affected by cuts in Ministry funding as well as experiencing a down turn in our client base somewhat due to the effects of earthquakes in Canterbury but also to a general down turn in child age specific population in our area.
  • Private all-day centre:  We keep our head above water, just.  It’s very hard to continue to provide quality when there is no adjustment in funding.
  • Apparently there was no money in the Budget for teacher-aide and admin positions so teachers are asked to carry out non-teaching roles such as admin tasks.
  • Engaging with parents is so hard in our centre as we are a bi-lingual centre.
  • Things are relatively average.  Yet more competition is opening up and that makes four new services since December last year.  We are really struggling to attract children under 2 years.
  • We will need to increase pricing post-Budget but we are concerned about the impact of this on attendance.
  • Privately owned all-day centre:  We are treading water financially. Parents are feeling the cost of preschool education.
  • There is a lack of money for pay rises.  Our poor teachers are sitting on the same income but the cost of everything else rises.  There has been no funding increase but an increase in all other costs.
  • Too many new centres in our area are opening.
  • Non-profit community-based centre: We are considering charging more fees to retain the quality of care and education we offer, however this makes our centre not accessible to poorer families. We want to offer quality care and education at an affordable rate to all in our community. Surely they are entitled to the same quality of care as any other New Zealander.
  • We are considering making changes to our hours of operation.  We are currently operating a sessional kindergarten model and finding this doesn't meet community/family needs and revenue generation is too limited.
  • There always seems to be more competition [ECE services] opening.
  • Demand for childcare has declined.
  • Too many new centres opening in the area. We struggle to get parents to be here at the right time.
  • We are an early learning centre currently operating at 93% qualified staff, but we are struggling to find the time to keep up with all the paperwork. We need more time off the floor, but this is not financially viable.


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