Changes just announced to early childhood regulations will see the number of preschoolers and infants/toddlers attending an early childhood service - potentially triple.
The change in regulation for service size is to take effect from 1 July 2011. It will mean an increase in the capacity of services to have up to 150 children or 75 under 2s attending at any one time. Currently services are restricted to having no more than 50 children attending per centre licence at any one time (or up to 25 under 2s).
From the 1 July 2011 services can request a licence for more than 25 under two-year-old children and up to 75, if they (a) meet the conditions of being a service exclusively for under 2s, or (b) or a mixed-age service with up to 150 children.
The Ministry of Education online information states that the quality will not be affected for children as [other] minimum standards will be maintained and services must ensure they have environments appropriate to the number of children for which a license is approved.
There is no mention of the considerable body of empirical evidence that is clear that small group size is vital for good child development outcomes and how by increasing the license size (number of children) in a centre there is recognition of this evidence base.
There is no mention in the MInistry's initial online information if requirements for group size within services will be introduced, or other requirements to ensure that there are no negative effects on children, the availability/supply of smaller services, or NZ's international reputation for quality early childhood education and care.
The change is explained as a way of supporting services with multiple licenses to reduce costs and to reduce bureaucracy.