Early learning left without Government support again

26 February 2022

On the day free surgical masks for schools was announced, early learning providers received no new support.

“Chris Hipkins said ‘Our young people’s wellbeing is at the centre of everything we do. ’If Omicron support excludes our tamariki under five in early learning, then these words don’t convince me,” said Early Childhood Council CEO Simon Laube.

“If schools need extra support then why wouldn’t early learning centres? If not now, then when?”

The Early Childhood Council has called for vastly improved access to RATs, so early learning can perform effective Surveillance Testing to help manage Omicron in their centres. But what was asked for and what was delivered reveal how inadequate the supply of RATs must be.

The call is backed up by leading public health and community paediatric experts, who have called for protections for under five’s – the only unvaccinated section of the population – during the Omicron peak, saying: “Very large Omicron outbreaks can lead to a substantial rise in children requiring hospitalisation, which will further stretch healthcare resources. Paediatric hospitalisations will very likely be inequitably distributed, disproportionately impacting Māori and Pasifika children and their whānau, and children from low socioeconomic households.”

“Simply, this myopic approach of supporting schools while ignoring early learning needs to stop. It’s really disappointing for parents to see their children’s providers left to cope with the Omicron peak without the Government’s support,” said Simon Laube.

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