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New regulation brings about fears of early childhood education being treated as "child farms"

A new regulation has come in to effect for childcare centres on July 1st allowing them to cater for up to 150 children under a single licence, where previously licences allowed for only 50.

These "megacentres", or "childfarms" as described by critics are apparently already operating under multiple licenses, so the change is acknowledging this. Yet what does this mean for the quality of our childcare? Karin Dalgleish, The Education of Ministry's acting head promises nothing would change for the children: their quality of care and education would remain unchanged. Somehow I'm not sure....

ONE News reports here.


This centre (above), Paradise Childcare in Petone shown to ONE news by Shelley Shaw - is one centre that could benefit from the new rules.  It is situated in a building that has been converted from a Valentines restaurant into a day-care centre.

Shaw told ONE News the facilities suit the centre's needs well: "It's better for the children we have optimum group size and our rooms cater for the needs and the ages of the children at the time."

This shot taken from the video shows the centres environment. You can imagine it with 150 children...not exactly a homely or nurturing environment, which is a need for young children, is it not?

Susan Taurua, supervisor at Rutherford Pre-school says: "It feels to me like it's become baby farming, that we're just trying to cram more children into more confined spaces."

She also fears that her 'community' pre-school - licenced for forty children - will bear the brunt of the impact of the new rules: "Parents have got another option down the road to perhaps have less cost for their children. Small community centres like ours could perhaps lose out or become non-existent."

From the small amount we see on the video, the centres environment, which uses natural wood, and a pitched roof, looks to be far more a kids friendly and homely or nurturing environment.

But the ratio of caregivers to children remains the same. Rob Facer, Chief Executive of ABC Childcare, does not believe it will have an effect on the quality of care: "The regulations around the environment and the group sizes are tightly controlled so it really is an administrative change more than a physical change."

But Nancy Bell from the New Zealand Childcare Association suggests that the difference will be more than just administrative: "We're worried how the primary caregiver relationship is going to be maintained and how children are going to build relationships and trust where there are so many people that they have to come to know."


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