This news item was first posted on the 28th September. Updates further to this item are included below it.
Original News Item
A review of the home-based ECE sector is to be carried out to ensure it is aligned well to Government's goals for ECE along with broader social and economic goals.
Education Minister Hekia Parata says that the Ministry of Education will be undertaking the review internally.
All indications are that the Ministry will likely propose changes on regulations, licensing practices and funding. No other individual types of ECE services are indicated, at least not yet, as being subject to an internal review for the identification of changes needed to come better into line with present political ambitions.
The NZ Home-based Association has been requesting a review of home-based ECE for a very long time according to association president Carol Stovold, and it welcomes this review.
The Association hopes the Ministry will make recommendations that will lead to clearer parameters for regulations and funding, improved selection processes for educators, and address both recognising existing ECE qualifications held by home-based educators and establishing a requirement for educator training to at least a level four ECE qualification with an appropriate lead in time.
"Our Association sees this as a huge opportunity for input into improving the variance in quality of ECE provision for children in our settings and the degree of support and guidance available," says Ms Stovold.
It will not be known if funding is to be reduced to the Home-based ECE sector until the recommendations are released. However, Ms Stovold warns that any decrease could fuel movement back to more unregulated care becoming available.
"What we don't want to see is any movement back to unregulated care which may happen if licensed home-based ECE becomes too costly to operate".
The Education Minister says the review will be completed in April 2013.
The home-based sector "has an important role to play in the Government’s priority for all children in New Zealand to have access to high quality early childhood education before starting school," says Ms Parata.
A barrier to making a positive difference for children's care and learning outcomes as a result of the review is a dearth of research into home-based care and education in NZ to inform decision-making. Further limitations may arise if Ministry of Education officials do not obtain independent expert advice and do not draw on the experience and knowledge of those who know about home-based care and education.
ECE centre owner lobbyists who compete with the home-based sector for a share of ECE public funding may try to influence the process and outcomes of the review. The Ministry will also need to be mindful of diversity in business and quality perspectives within the home-based sector and a possibility of some individual home-based providers wanting to dissuade it from making recommendations concerning such things as strengthening regulation, tightening licensing practices or introducing higher educator training standards.
NEWS UPDATES - More Specific Information as to the Review Purpose is Released
1 October 2012
Following the Minister's press release on 28th Sept 2012 (reported in the news article above) the Ministry of Education on 1st October 2012 outlined its intentions for the review:
"The review will begin with the re-examination of current definitions and the purpose of home-based ECE to ensure they align with the Government’s broader goals and priorities for ECE. Changes in regulations, licensing practices and funding may be required".
The review focus will be on what licensed home-based ECE currently is and does and how this matches with what would help government to achieve its goals (including employment and educational goals). This is to provide the basis or justification for any changes to be made in how the government treats the home-based sector and its expectations of it.
It is stated by the Ministry of Education that the review of ECE funding currently underway will inform the review of the home-based sector, and not the other way around.
20 November 2012
The Education Minister has released a copy of the advice she received from the Ministry of Education and her agreement in regard to the review of the home-based sector.
Key points to note in the advice are:
"The Ministry is becoming increasingly concerned about irregular sector practices that push the boundaries of the home-based ECE framework.
The provision of home-help services (cleaning, cooking and other housework) as part of home-based ECE appears to have increased.
Some providers are also actively seeking existing informal care arrangements and recruiting them into formal home-based ECE services.
The provision of au-pair services through home-based networks is also a growing feature.
We will review the legislative definition of home-based ECE.
We need to reconsider the level of accountability and assurance we expect from the sector ... We currently operate a high trust model that is not necessarily commensurate with the levels of funding we provide to some services."
The Ministry recommended a staged approach to consultation with the home-based sector, providing opportunity for Government to consider feedback on proposed changes before decisions are made.
6 December 2012
Au Pair Link, a provider of au pairs to families seeking childcare support in their homes and often also the opportunity to bring someone from a different country into their family, argues in a press release that au pairs are vital in the "successful educational development of children". As at November 2012, Au Pair Link received Home-based ECE funding from the Ministry of Education for 564 children cared for by an au pair.
7 December 2012
A political lobby group for the financial interests of ECE childcare centre owners has sought to influence the review. It said to its members that it has written to the Minister to express its concerns about the review of home-based ECE.