October 6, 2008

Playcentres Are Grossly Underfunded

Playcentres are being grossly underfunded. That's the finding of a new report released last week. The report, prepared by Woodhams Research Associates, found that government funding was substantially lower than required for Playcentre to be sustainable due to a systematic discounting on Playcentre costs. It also found that parents are frustrated by the need to waste their time on Ministry of Education red tape rather than providing the programme for their children.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation said the report highlighted how the government has undermined parents wanting to educate their own children.

Political reaction has been swift with National promising to incorporate Playcentre within the free early childhood funding model and United Future urging action to support Playcentre http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/default,995,playcentres_being_systematically_under-funded.sm

"We have been trying for years to get the government to recognise the stress they have been putting Playcentre under. Now we have documented evidence of their systematic underfunding" said Playcentre Federation President, Marion Pilkington.

Key findings in the report include:

* The Ministry of Education appears to have ignored 31% of Playcentre costs when calculating funding rates;

* There is no adequate argument for excluding Playcentre from the 20 hours free ECE policy;

* Playcentre members, at centre and association level, have to volunteer for over 2000 hours per year for each centre on activities other than running the educational programme.

* Government policies have discriminated against parent provision of ECE.

"We have always known that Playcentre provides high quality education for our children" said Mrs Pilkington. "The report shows how the Playcentre model of education matches the best international research on high quality outcomes for children and their families as well."

Rural Playcentres often form community hubs and meeting points, especially after the closure of small schools and services such as post offices. It is in the interest of all communities to see that the Playcentre model remains healthy and viable.

"Playcentre calls on all political parties to support our drive for fair funding, effective structural support and reduced bureaucratic red tape" said Marion Pilkington.

The full report is published at www.playcentre.org.nz

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