The Green Party today announced that its key social platform for this election will be to tackle child poverty and inequality by ensuring every child in New Zealand has enough to thrive.
The Green Party will make a series of policy announcements in the run up to the election which will cumulatively form a plan to ensure that every child has enough of what they need to thrive.
In the first of these announcements, made today, the party has announced a package to support families by extending access to free early childhood education and improve the quality of all ECE.
The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan for supporting families’ access to ECE are:
1) *Extend the 20 Hours free early childhood education subsidy to cover two-year-olds*, at an initial cost of $297 million, rising to $367 million in four years’ time. As the benefits of this successful scheme are opened up to at least another 40,000 children, more kids will get a good start in life and the burdens on their families will be eased.
2) *Provide $32 million a year to restore funding for 100 percent qualified teachers*, as part of an ambitious plan to boost the quality of early childhood education and make sure every child gets the right care and support.
“Every child should have enough to thrive. Any less is a failure of our society,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
“One in four children lives in poverty, and 205,000 Kiwi kids are now living in severe poverty, and going without the basics.
“The cost of ECE in New Zealand is too high. According to a 2010 OECD study, New Zealand working families pay 28 percent of their net income on childcare – the fourth highest percentage of family income in the group.
“Extending 20 hours free ECE to two-year-olds will make a real financial difference to thousands of families. We estimate that families with two-year-olds in ECE could be up to $95 a week better off under our policy.
“By reducing the high cost of ECE in New Zealand we can both help struggling families access ECE and directly assist in reducing their weekly outgoings.
“The Green Party will help families out financially by reducing ECE costs, at the same time as improving access to quality education. It is a major investment in our kids.
“About two thirds of all two-year-olds are currently enrolled in ECE, but their parents miss out on the ‘20 Hours’ subsidy given to three and four year olds. We will make the system fair by extending the same subsidy to the large number of two-year-olds in ECE.
“Despite the relatively low level of current subsidy, around 40,000 two-year-olds are still enrolled in ECE, significantly more than a decade ago. Our policy helps will make a big difference to those families straight away.
“This is an investment in families and our kids’ education and in reducing poverty.
“Good-quality ECE helps children reach their full potential, both in education and in leading healthy and productive lives. It can even make the difference, according to recent research, between being in or out of poverty in later life.
“Investment in ECE is a great education spend today, but it can also reduce poverty and inequality overtime.
“Supporting families by extending free ECE provides more choice for all families with young children.
“All the evidence shows that to get the full benefit of improved access to ECE it must be good quality.
“That’s why we’re also including an ambitious plan to boost the quality of early childhood education at the same time.
“The Green Party will immediately restore funding to services with 100 percent qualified staff, commit to a long term strategy of lifting teacher qualifications, hold a ministerial review into ECE funding including a review of staff ratios, and focus on expanding not-for-profit public education.
“As part of that, we’ve already announced plans to build 20 new ECE centres onsite at low decile schools.”