Press Release – NZEI
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says quality early childhood education and environments are what make the difference in mitigating stress for children in childcare.8th February 2012
Quality early childhood education mitigates daycare stress
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says quality early childhood education and environments are what make the difference in mitigating stress for children in childcare.
The ‘Who Cares’ report from the conservative lobby group Family First claims spending long periods of time in childcare is detrimental for children and more should be done to encourage mothers to stay home.
The report overstates daycare stress on children but it does highlight the need for quality early childhood education services and better parental leave provisions.
NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker says “there’s no doubt that children and families benefit from having as much time together as possible and parents often face a difficult decision about if, when and how they can return to work”.
“New Zealand lags behind many other OECD countries in terms of its parental leave entitlements and we should be able to give parents more choice. It’s always good to see debate on the issue reignited”.
Hayley Whitaker says quality early childhood education by a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is pivotal in helping children and families settle into childcare and reducing any stress they may face.
“That means environments where there are qualified teachers who are specialists in child development and early childhood education, good teacher-child ratios and small group sizes. Unfortunately some of those indicators of quality early childhood education have been eroded by recent government policy,” she says.
Over the past three years funding has been cut to more than 2,000 ECE services, the target for having 100% qualified teachers has been abandoned, professional development for early childhood teachers has been cut, and licensing requirements were changed pushing up the maximum centre size from 50 to 150 child places.
“Small children need consistency of care and education by qualified staff in warm, caring environments. Ensuring children are in quality learning environments is critical in reducing any stress they may face,” Ms Whitaker says.