Early learning providers hoping for budget lifeline

20 May 2021

Community and privately owned early learning providers are hoping for a funding boost, alongside the investment in teacher pay, in today’s budget.

“Our teachers are at the heart of ECE, and the continued moves to Pay Parity have been welcomed throughout our sector. But after a decade of no real funding increase for providers, we think it’s time they’re recognised too,” said Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds.

The ECC says a small percentage increase in the per-child subsidy in today’s budget would make a massive difference to centres coping with rising costs across the board.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced further investment in early learning teacher pay in a pre-budget announcement, and signaled the current funding model will be overhauled to deliver full pay parity.

77% of a centre’s budget goes to teacher wages on average, meaning operational costs like rent, maintenance and resources must come from the remainder. The rising costs of relief teachers, extra public holidays, pay equity claims, minimum wage increases and increased sick leave means budgets are stretched to breaking point, with closures affecting children’s care and parental choice.

“Long term, the Minister has said the funding model needs to change to make early learning truly fair. With centres currently closing at a rate of one a week, a small funding boost today would relieve severe operational pressures immediately,” said Mr Reynolds.

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