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.