Childcare centres brace for less money as cuts hit home

By Elizabeth Binning

Education Minister Anne Tolley. Photo / Christine Cornege
Education Minister Anne Tolley. Photo / Christine Cornege

Funding cuts are a reality for around 2000 early childhood centres this week.

The Government has cut nearly $300 million from its budget by removing the top two funding rates for centres with more than 80 per cent of fully qualified teachers.

The cuts don't take place until February but centres are funded quarterly so the November payments being issued this week will be the first to include the new rates.

Until now many centres have only been able to speculate what the cuts would mean for their budgets.

"Today the reality of the government cuts will hit home as kindergartens and centres see their reduced funding coming through," said NZ Education Institute vice-president Judith Nowotarski.

A parent and early childhood teacher bungy-jumped from the Harbour Bridge yesterday morning in a show of protest.

Korncarl Marsters said he wanted to show support for his daughters' centre which was having to stop a number of extra activities, such as gym and swimming, as a result of the funding cuts.

Around 2000 centres are expected to be affected by the funding cuts. Many plan to pass the costs onto the parents of 93,000 children or make staff redundant.

"Everyone has been working to figure out how they will survive onless funding and many services will be increasing parent fees from today to cover the shortfall," said Ms Nowotarski. A recent survey by theNZ Childcare Association showedthat more than 70 per cent of the centres surveyed said they would increase fees by between $10-50 a week per child.

Sixty per cent said they expected participation levels to drop as a result.

In the Wanganui region, 14 teacher aides in kindergartens have been told they will lose their jobs at Christmas as centres struggle to cope with a 13 per cent reduction of their budget.

Labour Early Childhood Education spokeswoman Sue Moroney said parents facing increased fees from today needed to know that the Government, not providers, were to blame. She said the "Government's decision to increase GST to 15 per cent had also forced fees up".

Education Minister Anne Tolley has previously said there was a cost blow-out under Labour in early childhood education which saw funding treble, while the number of children taking part increased by less than 1 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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