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Un-edited statements from the health sector and beyond

Responding to Children of beneficiary parents losing ground under new welfare reforms

Peter Reynolds, chief executive officer of the Early Childhood Council Wednesday 30 October 2013, 11:24AM

Statement from Peter Reynolds, chief executive officer of the Early Childhood Council

In the "Un-Doctored" item by Associate Professor Mike O'Brien entitled " Children of beneficiary parents losing ground under new welfare reforms" (Wednesday 23rd October 2013) the claim is made that "...early  childhood educators are now accountable for the compliance of parents in meeting compulsory attendance requirements."

This is not the case.

Firstly, quality early childhood education is concerned with the care and development of pre­ school-aged children, not monitoring the benefit compliance of parents. Teachers in childcare centres are focussed on the needs of the child and have no mandate or mechanism to identify or report benefit entitlement issues.

Secondly, while it is true that the government is pressing ahead with the development of an on-line enrolment system for children engaged in licensed childcare in New Zealand, both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development have repeatedly stated there are no arrangements in place to exchange information and no immediate plans to do so.

The early childhood education sector remains concerned that changes to the Privacy Act allow for this sort of exchange to take place in the future, and have recently written to the Privacy Commissioner raising concerns about the risks associated with such an exchange.   The Commissioner is very much aware of these concerns and responds stating that any information­ sharing agreement requires her oversight and approval.

Finally, were this sort of activity to be entertained by government, it would no doubt encounter an early childhood education sector unwilling to provide information that could be used for that purpose.

For your further information, the Early Childhood Council is a membership body for independent early childhood centres.  It's membership is over 1,000 centres nationwide.




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