New Zealand body ECC is worried about centre closures in 2021 as parity pressures bite
Prominent early childhood education and care (ECEC) voices in New Zealand have expressed concern about “a perfect storm” of economic factors which are forcing approved providers to take “desperate measures”, with some predicting that 2021 “could be the year an early learning centre shuts its doors weekly.”
Speaking with local publication Scoop, Early Childhood Council (ECC) CEO Peter Reynolds said he is fielding a call a week from a provider in trouble and facing the possibility of shutting down their service.
“Centre closures were already hitting 40 per year and rising, and that could well reach 52 in 2021. It’s a shocking statistic,” he added.
According to Ministry of Education data, centre closures have been rising steadily from 17 in 2016 to 40 in 2020, which comes against the backdrop of changes in the New Zealand industrial relations space, including an additional public holiday, increases to minimum wages for educators, and “a raft of changes” recommended for the Holidays Act.
While providers support teacher pay parity in early learning, Mr Reynolds said, “it must be accompanied by funding. Services can’t keep enduring all these funding pressures without some realistic support through increased funding subsidies.”
The ECC is calling for the government to split any early learning funding increase at 70 per cent for teacher pay, and 30 per cent for centres’ operational costs, allowing them to invest in crucial resources and maintenance, in the forthcoming Budget.
To access the original Scoop coverage of this story, please see here.