NZ Government set to reshape FDC landscape with qualification requirements

by Freya Lucas

February 20, 2019

The New Zealand Government has announced a move to ensure that subsidised in home care, known in Australia as family day care (FDC) becomes “professionalised” through mandated qualification levels for educators, to ensure “better and more consistent quality”.

 

The announcement, made today by the New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins, was met with concern by the New Zealand National Party Education Spokesperson Nicola Willis, who outlined her worries about early childhood education becoming unaffordable for vulnerable families should the Government progress with the proposed change.

 

Outlining the reasoning for the proposed change, Mr Hipkins said that home-based early childhood education has been the fastest growing part of New Zealand’s early learning sector, receiving over $150 million each year in public funding. In 2018, 18,267 children received education and care from a home-based educator, an increase of 65 per cent since 2007, he said.

 

“We’ve heard from educators and parents about the unique place that home-based learning holds, in particular the family-feel it provides, with small groups and close relationships. But we have also heard concerns about inconsistent quality across the sector, due in part to inadequate government oversight.

 

“Currently home-based educators are not required to hold a relevant qualification, and the proportion of services with qualified educators has declined over the last decade. The Government has decided to move towards a Level 4 Early Childhood Education certificate becoming the minimum qualification for home-based educators,” Mr Hipkins said.

 

The move by the New Zealand Government is similar to that made by the Australian Government. Currently in Australia, all FDC educators must hold, or be actively working towards, a minimum qualification of Certificate III, with South Australian FDC educators needing to hold a completed Certificate III as a minimum requirement to open a service. All those co-ordinating an FDC scheme must hold an approved Diploma level education and care qualification, or above. Queensland co-ordinators are taken to hold an approved diploma level education and care qualification in Queensland if they held a qualification before 1 January 2012 that is published on the list of former approved qualifications for FDC co-ordinators.

 

Ms Willis said her “heart went out to the thousands of home-based educators” now facing an uncertain future in the wake of the announcement, saying that 70 per cent of the home-based educator workforce don’t hold a qualification, adding that it was “unclear who will provide this training, how much it will cost or how long the qualifications will take to obtain”.

 

Mr Hipkins said the New Zealand Government would work with the New Zealand early learning  sector determine how and when the requirement would become mandatory, acknowledging that the change represented a substantial shift, and that it was important to minimise disruption to children and families.

 

He went on to add that the move to a fully-qualified workforce was a major change coming out of a review of the home-based early childhood education, and that other decisions on the review include:

 

  • Strengthened oversight through a beefed-up ‘visiting teacher’ role;

 

  • Giving the Education Review Office the power to enter homes where home-based early childhood education is taking place; and

 

  • More explicit requirements on service providers to provide health and safety training and professional development for educators.

 

“It is likely that our higher requirements and greater scrutiny will result in some providers exiting the market, or moving to informal arrangements that no longer receive public money,” Mr Hipkins said.

 

A link to the cabinet paper outlining the changes can be found here.

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