New rules worry childcare centres

By Errol Kiong

New legislation before Parliament is raising fears childcare centres may be too bogged down in rules to be innovative.

Early Childhood Council chief executive Sue Thorne told 600 delegates at its annual conference in Rotorua yesterday that the Education Amendment Bill applies a one-size-fits-all element to all childcare centres. She said Section 317 of the bill would impose specific micro-rules that would leave ministry officials powerless to interpret the general regulations with common sense.

She said the proposed legislation would have stopped kohanga reo and Steiner centres from starting up.

But Education Minister Steve Maharey said the Early Childhood Council was "speculating" on what the proposed changes could mean. The guidelines have still not been determined yet, and the council could still give feedback. He said the ministry was committed to ensuring the diversity of childcare facilities.

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