New Zealand children returning to early learning despite COVID-19, economic hurdles

19 August 2020

Early Childhood Council research shows community and privately-owned centres are returning to pre-COVID-19 levels slowly – but they’re having to work hard to get back to full capacity.

In a survey of members conducted before the return to Levels 3 and 2, centres report that parents are bringing their children back to early learning, as they return to work and usual routines:

  • 66% of centres surveyed report they’re at over 80% of usual attendance levels
  • 50% reported no issues attracting parents back

Parental reluctance is the biggest factor in keeping children home, with economic factors like loss of earnings or employment and extra vigilance on keeping sick children home also playing a part.

“These results are positive, but we only have to look at the Auckland outbreak to see where risks lie. Wage subsides have played a big part in this encouraging picture. Like everyone, we have concerns for the future when they come off,’ said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

“Early learning plays a vital role in helping parents return to work, and our message is that it’s safe to bring your children back to our regulated and hyper-sanitised environments.”

Centres, who have suspended parent fees during lockdown in many cases, are maintaining their relationships with families through Zoom calls, email and social media to encourage parents to keep children enrolled.

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