Urgent Response Fund failing to deliver urgency, responses or funds

13 October 2020

Onerous process and a lack of transparency is preventing early learning centres accessing the government’s education Urgent Response Fund.

Concerns raised by centres include a lack of clarity on application approvals, an inconsistent approach between regions and different criteria for schools and early learning.

Community and privately-owned centres are using valuable time applying to the fund, only to be knocked back with little or no feedback to help further applications.

“The regional approach is a good idea in theory – but in practicality it’s a fail. The current model isn’t working, it’s a post code lottery as many regions don’t have proper early learning representation on their approval boards,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

“We’re worried the fund, which is meant to last through to mid-2021, could be empty before early learning centres have had a fair chance to apply.”

The Early Childhood Council is recommending pausing the current funding process and replacing it by:

Setting a nationwide deadline for applications

Reviewing all applications in one hit, clearly setting out distribution, sector balance, decision making criteria and prioritising needs to address across New Zealand

Making applications, results and next steps publicly available to ensure transparency

“This model could be applied to either the remainder of the URF, or in stages.”

“The idea of the fund is very welcome but we need to unlock these resources faster,” said Mr Reynolds.

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