Staff, parents and children at Finlayson Park Childcare Centre celebrated the launch of a campaign to end Government’s the six-year funding freeze of early childhood education. The campaign called “Every Child is Worth It” seeks to reverse a six year trend of diminishing income for early childhood centres that has forced many to reduce the numbers of qualified staff or increase fees to families. Some centres have closed.
The event included a special cake and activities whereby parents shared their experiences and aspirations for quality care and education of their tamariki. Centre Head Teacher Julie Brice spoke of the struggle the small not-for-profit centre faces after a nationwide cut to funding of ECE in 2008 and the continuing freeze.
“Our centre has always been very frugal and tried to sustain a quality operation that puts the money we receive into children’s experiences and resources. We try to keep small group sizes and high ratios of qualified staff to children. However it’s now got to the point where the savings we were able to make in the good years, money we had put aside for emergency and contingencies, has gone. Now we are struggling to exist on the amount of money we are bringing in. With the funding freeze it’s now extremely difficult to keep paying wages and salaries.”
“Especially in an area like this where a lot of children don’t speak English as their first language we find they need masses of support to develop language and feel part of the centre. The Ministry’s own Early Childhood Advisory Group for under 2’s has warned that Maori and Pasifika and children from low income areas receive the greatest benefit from quality ECE,” said Julie.