Stability, better funding for the ECE sector and stronger support for parents are what children need according to ChildForum’s latest survey.
The survey canvassed the opinions of 300 people including those from the ECE sector, both workers and ECE service owners and managers; parents, child and family professionals, academics and community members.
It asked two key questions – what is the one thing government should do for young children and what is the one thing they would like government to do for the early childhood education sector.
Respondents were also asked for their ideas as to how their wishes could be implemented.
A greater role for parents
To help our country’s young children many respondents, including several of those working in the ECE sector, felt support for parents and their role in their children’s education was paramount.
Many felt that parents were being squeezed out of their children’s early years in favour of professional ECE services. Ideas included funding parents who chose to stay at home with their children or attend a community or parent-led service to the same degree as professional ECE services are funded.
Doing more to prevent child abuse and keep children safe was also seen as important.
Funding and stability are key for ECE
Most respondents were keen for better funding for all ECE services, but restoring the funding for 100% qualified teachers in teacher-led services was seen as very important. Many felt the reduced funding was impacting on the quality across teacher-led services.
Stability of funding and support was seen a key area as it would enable ECE services to better plan for the future without worrying. Funding needed to be made available to all services including Kohanga Reo and Playcentre to ensure choice for parents.
Many respondents also called for more regulation within the sector in order to restrict group sizes and ensure better outcomes. Ideas to achieve this included more frequent checks by ERO and the Ministry of Education’s licensing teams and greater powers for ERO to deal with services which are not up to scratch.
These results are particularly interesting in light of the recent Green Paper released in July by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett on how to help vulnerable children which says "for children to thrive, belong and achieve, they need to be supported by caring parents, family and whānau, and networks" and the recent announcements by National that it will set up sector advisory groups on various areas of ECE and make changes to the funding system.