Govt should drop ECE targets amid quality concern

The Government must drop its early childhood attendance targets as evidence mounts that they could be doing more harm to children than good, the Green Party says.

Reports today show that thousands of children might be at risk in low quality ECE services as the Government is recruiting Maori, Pacific and low income children for enrolment in order to bolster its 98 % attendance targets.

“The Government is putting its targets ahead of the safety of children,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“No child should be encouraged to attend an early childhood service that is not up to scratch, just to make the Government look good.

“The Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office and two sector advisory groups have all warned the Minister that there are thousands of kids enrolled in low quality services that could be doing them harm, but she’s carried on with her recruitment drive anyway.

“By ignoring quality concerns the Government is showing a callous disregard for children, and revealing just  how much it has lost touch with what’s really going on for families. Parents care more about the safety and education of their children, than the Government’s targets.

“Safety and quality should come first. The Government must to drop its targets and stop aggressively recruiting more children for ECE until the quality problems have been sorted out.

“I’ve been questioning the Minister about quality concerns for the past two years and have constantly come up against a brick wall.

“The Green Party exposed last year that the Government had pulled the plug on a review of home-based services – the subject of serious quality concerns – because they were needed in order to meet the attendance targets.

“I want to know when she’s going to act on the very serious concerns raised two years ago by the Early Childhood Education Sector Advisory groups. They said tens of thousands of Maori, Pacifica and Low income kids are at risk of real harm from low quality ECE then, yet the drive to get more of those kids into ECE has only intensified since,” Ms Delahunty said.