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Big questions over explosion in subsidies for nannies and au pairs

Hekia Parata’s decision to cancel a review of home-based early childhood services is just the latest in a long line of embarrassingly poor judgements that have blown up in her face, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Not long ago Hekia Parata quietly shelved a review of home-based services, saying the National government would rather focus on boosting participation.

“It was a bad call, with millions of dollars of public money now being pumped into paying unqualified nannies and au pairs with questionable educational results.

“Surely the Government should be just as focused on ensuring that services are delivering quality as they are on increasing bums on seats?

“That money is supposed to be boosting participation in 20 hours a week of free, quality early childhood education. Instead it is going on subsidises towards nannies and au pairs for those who can afford to make that choice, while children from low-income families still top the statistics for non-participation.

“Home-based early childhood care has been the fastest growing part of the sector and yet the quality controls and accountability regime is incredibly loose.

“Questioned repeatedly at select committee hearings, the Ministry of Education has admitted it doesn’t know whether the massive increase in spending on home-based early childhood services is delivering value for money.

“Labour is proud to have been the party that introduced 20 hours per week free early childhood education, but many of the original plan’s fundamentals have been changed.

“It was our vision that children would be taught by qualified teachers. Instead, the National government has pushed for increased participation to meet arbitrary targets at the expense of educational quality.

“We need to get this back on track. Labour will restore the target of having fully qualified teachers in early childhood education,” Chris Hipkins says.