Early childhood education received a much needed boost in Budget 2018, with Education Minister Chris Hipkins announcing $590.2 million in new operating funding over four years.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says more children will get access to early childhood education services and providers will be relieved of some of their financial pressures.

“For too long, early learning providers have been forced to do more with less, putting pressure on service quality and prices. We believe the young kids and parents they serve deserve better.”

“Budget 2018 delivers the first universal cost adjustment for early learning services since 2008 when we were last in Government, plus an additional 62.5 million early learning hours over the next four years.”

Funding increased by 1.6 per cent. While Hipkins described this as “a fiscally responsible adjustment”, the Early Childhood Council described it as “underwhelming”.
“This small increase is of course welcomed, but it doesn’t even keep up with inflation,” said chief executive Peter Reynolds.

“We have been hearing how important the early years are, and how important education is, and yet the funding announced today doesn’t sit with that rhetoric.”

Both NZEI Te Riu Roa and New Zealand Kindergartens agreed.

“The extra 1.6 per cent in operational funding for ECE services is the first in 10 years, but ECE needed a lot more attention after so many years of underfunding by the previous government. Funding levels are still unsustainable in that sector,” said NZEI president Lynda Stuart.

New Zealand Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells says the 1.6 per cent increase will mainly cover the expected growth in participation.

“Funding participation comes at the expense of the quality of services – that has been evident across the sector over the past 10 years,” said Wells.

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