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Home-based early childhood care in for a shake up

Elizabeth Thomson
toddler playing
Toddler playing on the floor (Stock Image).  Public Domain Pictures, Petr Kratochvil

The Government is considering a proposal to toughen up laws around home-based early childhood education.

The proposal, introduced in August, will work to tighten laws around home-based education. 

Currently there are 18,400 children in home-based ECE in New Zealand. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the proposed changes aimed to lift quality and make sure government funding was used "as intended, to support education and care".

An outline of the proposal included lifting the education requirements for educators to a minimum level four certificate in early childhood education. 

Other proposals outlined in the document included making sure all educators were provided with health and safety training and police vets before taking up the job, and including the educators own school-aged children in the maximum number of children allowed in the home, which currently stands at six. 

The Ministry of Education has also been considering making ECE funding conditional for home-based educators on the basis they are transparent with parents on how much funding their child will attract for the service. 

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds welcomed the proposed changes. 

"The reforms for home-based services are well overdue. The growth of child care services over the last fifty years has gone in a variety of different directions and with that came many reforms." 

Reynolds said home-based education service rules were "different" from regular early childhood education services, and the reforms would help parents to "compare apples with apples". 

He said any change would bring resistance, but early childhood services were professionalising and minimum qualifications should come with that. 

"I would hope that by pulling together better standards of qualifications for all educators, there will be a better appreciation of what it takes to raise a child in partnership with parents." 

 A Barnardos early childhood care service spokesperson said: "We support our home-based educators to attain their level four early childhood education qualification, as we believe this supports our educators to provide a quality learning experience for all children." 

The spokesperson said Barnardos already provided study support through visiting teachers. 

The organisation was also "broadly" in support of reforms to health and safety regulations. The spokesperson said Barnardos was engaging with the ministry and encouraged parents and others to have their say. 

PORSE Education and Training general manager Erin Maloney said the review was "an opportunity to engage in conversation around quality and what it looks like in the home-based sector".  

She said PORSE offered a free level four early childhood education course online for all its educators, which she said would offer "high-quality education and care outcomes for children". 

Maloney said the scope of the review gave a "lot of opportunity to actively consult with the sector". 

The Ministry of Education is seeking feedback from parents and education providers on the proposal before September 24.