Job losses and closure are threatening the future of one of the country's oldest early education services, says its boss.
Playcentre Aotearoa educates more than 7 per cent of New Zealand's preschoolers but received less than 1 per cent of the Government's early childhood funding, said general manager Sean McKinley.
In this week's Budget, the education sector was allocated a total of $813.6 million.
Playcentre was allocated a total increase of $3.1 million over four years for its 420 centres and 1000 staff members.
McKinley said to remain viable under the current funding the 80-year-old organisation would have to close some facilities and lay off staff.
He said the parent lead centre was grateful for any support but said other similar organisations were given more.
"Compare that with the $200 million increase over four years for Te Kōhanga Reo, a service with which we have traditionally had parity," McKinley said.
"The $3.1 million we have received amounts to approximately $675,000 a year for our organisation, or $1685 per centre per year.
Playcentre is a parent-led service, but in order to meet Government regulations, many Centres employ trained and qualified supervisors.
McKinley said under its current funding Playcentre services would have to be cut.
"This will involve making staff redundant, decreasing support for our volunteer workforce and most likely closing centres that we can no longer afford to subsidise in high-need areas of the country."
Playcentres provided an important role, especially in rural communities, where they are often the only early childhood education, he said.
McKinley said it will now be very difficult for Playcentre Aotearoa to compete in the early childhood education market.
McKinley had asked Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, to address the concerns to avoid job loss and closure of the 80-year-old service.