Funding for Pay Parity is needed by Christmas, or more centres will close
The rate of early learning centre closures is on track to more than double on last year, showing the government’s teacher Pay Parity initiative still isn’t working two years into its three year timeline.
48 early learning centres closed between March-July 2022, 11 of those closed centres did not even try to opt-in, and a further 35 centres opted-in then opted straight back out (but remain open, for now), showing the Pay Parity funding rates are unworkable.
“Some providers are finding there’s no point opting into Pay Parity - how else can you explain the surprising number of providers opting out so soon? We said Pay Parity won’t work before the last budget and sadly, the numbers back this up.” said ECC CEO Simon Laube.
“Budget 2023 is too long to wait – credible Pay Parity is needed by Christmas, or more centres will close. For families, the government’s approach means fee increases, longer wait lists and less overall choice of where they can send their children.”
The ECC says teachers are still being short-changed by the government for their crucial work with tamariki in early learning, while the providers who employ them are left with an impossible shortfall between the funding they receive and the government’s salary increases.
To stay financially viable, many centres cut back on non-funded services like employing teachers above minimum ratios, while non-fee charging community centres have no option but to close or drastically change their operating model.
“Now more than ever, the New Zealand public need access to quality early learning as we recover from COVID-19 and look to our education system to meet today’s challenges to literacy and poor attendance.”
“We’re committed to helping centres survive and thrive, and will survey providers across the sector to establish an independent view of the scale of this problem,” said Simon Laube.