Labour would introduce a minimum qualification requirement for all early childhood educators, seeking to curb the rapid growth of taxpayer-subsidised nannies and au pairs.
The party's education spokesman Chris Hipkins says early childhood funding should be focused on boosting participation in quality, free services, and ensuring value for money.
"Instead it is going on subsidies towards nannies and au pairs for those who can afford to make that choice, while children from low-income families still top the statistics for non-participation," he said.
"Surely the Government should be just as focused on ensuring that services are delivering quality as they are on increasing bums on seats."
Mr Hipkins' comments follow a Herald report from the weekend which revealed rapid growth in the home-based sector, with a record number of children - 25,000 - now in government-subsidised services which don't require educators to have have any qualifications.
"Home-based early childhood care has been the fastest growing part of the sector and yet the quality controls and accountability regime is incredibly loose," he said.
"Not long ago Hekia Parata quietly shelved a review of home-based services, saying the National government would rather focus on boosting participation. It was a bad call, with millions of dollars of public money now being pumped into paying unqualified nannies and au pairs with questionable educational results."
He said questions at select committee had found the Ministry of Education has admitted it didn't know whether the increase in spending was delivering value for money.
Mr Hipkins said if Labour was elected, it would restore the target of having fully-qualified teachers in early childhood education.
It would also seek to introduce a minimum qualification for homebased educators. Currently, only co-ordinators in homebased networks have to be fully-qualified, while educators (those who have the children in their homes) do not need a degree.
Homebased networks see educators look after up to 4 children at home, with 20 homes per co-ordinator - meaning one teacher can be supervising up to 80 children.
The Labour government brought in 20-hours free ECE for three and four-year-olds in its final term. When National was elected in 2008 it kept the policy, but cut the move towards a 100 percent qualified workforce, instead aiming to have 98 percent of children attending by 2016.
Participation is currently around 96 percent.