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$110.9m to increase early childhood participation


Hekia Parata

24 May, 2012

$110.9m to increase early childhood participation

Extra Budget operating funding of $110.9 million for early childhood education (ECE) over the next four years continues the Government?s drive to increase the number of vulnerable children participating in ECE, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.

?We know that participating in early childhood education has considerable benefits for children.

?One of the 10 measurable targets of the Prime Minister?s Better Public Services results centres on early childhood education.

?The Government?s target is that in 2016, 98 per cent of all new school entrants will have participated in early childhood education,? Ms Parata says.

?This will be a challenge. But we are completely focused on giving all children the opportunity to reach their potential.?

In Budget 2010, the Government made a significant investment in improving participation by children in the most vulnerable communities. Many initiatives are now established and showing good results, with around 1,300 extra children enrolled and places in new services being provided to over 850 children.

Budget 2012 continues to target areas of high need, with $47.9 million in operating funding over the next four years invested through equity funding in ECE services that support priority learners and communities.

?This will support vulnerable children who are currently not receiving sufficient support to succeed in education,? Ms Parata says.

?These children often do not attend ECE for a variety of reasons. By targeting resources to these learners, we will raise participation to give them a strong platform for their compulsory school years.?

To support the youth package in the welfare reforms, $43.9 million will go into ECE over four years.

A further $19.1 million of operating funding over the next four years has been set aside to support M?ori medium ECE services.

To target extra resources where they are most needed, the Government will continue to fund overall ECE services at the current rate. Government funding for ECE subsidies has more than doubled from $617 million in 2006/07 to $1.3 billion this year.

?We continue to support the 20 hours ECE subsidy rates which recent research shows more than meets the average cost of delivering high-quality ECE,? Ms Parata says.

?In the past, the Government has provided an annual universal adjustment to compensate for inflation. However, in the current fiscal climate, we have to weigh up costs and benefits.

?Better-targeted funding this year will help the Government achieve its goal of providing support to those with the greatest need.

?We are continuing to work on a new Early Learning Information system that will gather better information on participation, duration and consistency.

?We will also continue to develop a funding system that targets and incentivises high-quality education for learners and ensures we are getting better results for the high level of investment,? Ms Parata says. 2012