This finding from the “ChildForum Early Childhood Confidence Survey 2019” of 900 members of the sector comes just ahead of the Government’s release of its annual budget.

ChildForum chief executive and senior researcher Dr Sarah Alexander said that the government’s attention is on tertiary education, primary, and secondary education. Meanwhile things in the early childhood sector are expected to worsen.

The survey shows that there are problems of funding, staffing, pay and conditions, and supporting children with their care and learning needs.

“It’s not ideal for the care and learning of vulnerable and young children to be in situations where staff, managers and owners are reporting that their service is just trying to survive,” said Dr Alexander.

Dr Alexander said that following the 2017 election of a new Labour-led coalition Government there was fresh optimism and an expectation of change.

“But hope is fading and disappointment in the Government is setting in.”

The survey shows that people in the sector still generally feel that the government is not moving in the right direction for early childhood education.

“The release of a draft Strategic Plan for the sector doesn’t seem to have made a difference to people’s confidence in the Government’s efforts toward early childhood education – probably because it’s a 10-year plan with no action being taken right now.

“There’s also a feeling that the Government has not really got a good understanding of early childhood education.,” said Dr Alexander

Compared with the same time last year, fewer people in the sector expect to see improvement and more expect things to worsen.

In 2018, 23% of respondents believed they would start to see improvement in the sector compared with 12% now. Forty-six percent now expect things to worsen compared with 36% a year ago.

The survey results and any announcements for ECE contained in Budget 2019 will be discussed at the National Summit for ECE Managers and Owners to be held this Friday (31st May) in Auckland.

More than 200,000 babies and young children are cared for by the sector in over 4,000 services, that include early childcare centres, kindergartens, playcentres, home-based ECE, hospital-based ECE services and language nests.


  1. Hey hang about here.
    Early childhood centers are in the vast majority private businesses. They can and do charge fees. Stop blaming the government. The government sets the standards but businesses decide whether they want to be in this business or not.
    If people who work in a business want to see an improvement then go and hit up the business owner not the standard setter.

    • Hey, hang about – the government pays for a significant proportion of ECE fees through it’s ECE programmes. The government sets the fees and ECE centres can only charge for services delivered outside the govt funded times or ask for voluntary payments from parents. Government fees have risen by a couple of percent over the past few years while wages, rent, food, power etc have risen by larger amounts. ECE is a risky business when the government isn’t focussing on quality and paying what is needed to achieve good business outcomes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here