NZ’s first Wellbeing Budget provides additional support for ECEC operators
New Zealand has released their 2019 Federal Budget in a new format that sees new spending initiatives categorised under a set of five priority areas aligned with the country’s broader objective to ensure the “wellbeing” of the average New Zealander is being improved by fiscal measures adopted by the Government, as opposed to the more traditional method of reporting expenditure via ministerial department.
The five categories in which new spending has been allocated are; Taking mental health seriously, improving child wellbeing, supporting Maori and Pasifika aspirations, building a productive nation and transforming the economy.
A total of NZ$3.4bn has been allocated in Budget 2019 for new initiatives in the upcoming 2019/20 year. The budget also funds the years up to 2022/23.
From an early childhood education and care perspective, the budget saw new funds allocated to the following initiatives:
- Increased subsidy for ECEC services operators – An allocation equal to an approximate 1.8 per cent increase in the total operational grants received by ECEC providers has been included in this years budget. The increase will come into effect on Jan 1, 2020 with NZ$34 million provided for the half year to June 30,2020 and further allocations of NZ$65m, NZ$67m and NZ$69m for the next three full financial years. The additional funds are being made available to help providers meet the rising costs of resources services and staffing.
- ECEC demand increase support subsidy – NZ$5.9 million has been allocated for 2019/20 rising to NZ$44.4 million in 2020/21 to ensure that ECEC services (and schools) are able to maintain existing levels of access and provision in responses to changes in demand. Projected changes in expenditure on teachers salaries and ECEC subsidies will be used as the basis to determine grant amounts.
- Home-based (FDC) ECEC quality improvement initiative – NZ$6.1 million has been allocated over the next four years to raise the quality of educator / child interactions in home based (FDC) care settings. Tertiary education providers will be funded to enable the educator workforce to upskill to a Level 4 ECEC qualification.
- Healthy eating and quality physical activity initiatives – Funds have been allocated to support early learning settings (and schools) to provide healthy and active learning environments. This will be achieved through the provision of guidelines, curriculum resources and health promotion with implementation focused on healthy eating policies.
- Increasing teacher supply for the future initiatives – Although, not specifically referenced as an ECE initiative, a total of NZ$95 million has been allocated over four years to increase teacher supply though providing increased funding for initial teacher education and assisting providers with retention of teachers. Support will also be provided to support the attraction of new teachers, both domestically and internationally, whilst the new model of “growing your own” teachers is embedded.
For more information on the New Zealand Budget 2019 please click here.