‘Guilty until proven innocent’ unacceptable for early learning complaints process

09 September 2020

The Early Childhood Council has raised concerns about the process and lack of transparency around the Ministry of Education’s incident reporting and complaints system, which released its 2019 report today.

“Any service putting children at risk is unacceptable, but we’re worried the Ministry's current system of handling complaints effectively brands providers guilty until proven innocent,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

“Not every complaint is a complaint. We’d like to see submissions from vexatious ex-staff with axes to grind or from disgruntled parents with minor issues screened so that resources can be better focussed where they’re needed most.”

“Non-complaints like these still fall within the Ministry's numbers, and bias the reported figures slightly,” said Mr Reynolds.

The ECC understands the Ministry has been reviewing its complaints system after identifying multiple processes within its organisation. Frustratingly, there’s been no update on this work.

“We’ve long called for transparency from the Ministry over its complaints process, and fairness in the way complaints are handled. It’s a sensitive topic for everyone concerned, and think providers deserve better – or an update at the very least,” said Mr Reynolds.

“The Ministry places clear expectations on providers as to how they handle complaints, making sure their processes are clearly explained and transparent to parents. We simply ask the Ministry adopt the same approach.”

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