Budget Day 2021 – This is Who We Are

May 20, 2021

Today is budget day and the theme for this budget is ‘wellbeing’, with a focus on rebuilding. Our Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson has stated that the intention is to invest where we know the need is greatest. What we know is that the need is greatest in our early childhood education sector. This is the future of our country and where we are growing tomorrow’s big thinkers and world leaders.

While we appreciate that the Minister of Education made a pre-budget announcement last week around funding increases for early childhood education teachers to support pay parity, home-based ECE services were not included in the funding increase.  This is a big oversight given home-based ECE is the fastest growing part of the early learning sector and is dedicated to achieving the kind of working and learning conditions that are shown to be best practice in early childhood education environments. These include low ratios, familiar and nurturing environments, a whānau-based approach, flexibility of care hours, community-based relationships and authentic learning opportunities.

So what is home-based ECE and why is it important part of our early learning sector?

This is who we are

We are the tamariki who are thriving in natural, familiar and nurturing home environments. Who have benefitted from a primary caregiver and educator being there for them for so many of their firsts. First steps, first words, first outings, first foods, first friendships. Who have a home away from home with a special someone who has become a nurturing, protective and secure fixture in their lives.

This is who we are

We are the thousands of families and whānau who choose home-based because it just fits better than other care and education options. The families with small babies who are looking for an alternative to large, busy ECE centres. The families who work long or unpredictable hours, who need flexibility. The families who need smaller ratios because of sickness, learning difficulties or specials needs.  The families who are isolated and looking for someone who can become an extension of their own family. The families who just simply want to be able to choose what kind of care and learning environment they need, because diversity and choice is important.

This is who we are

We are the educators and kaiako who have chosen to work in home-based because it reflects our passion and personal values. Whose early learning philosophy is reflected in low ratios, authentic home environments and secure attachment relationships. Who are no different to our centre-based counterparts – meeting all set Ministry of Education licensing criteria and often going above and beyond to provide our care children with a rich curriculum that is personalised for each child. Many of us are trained in early childhood education, or qualified teachers who have chosen to work from their homes.

This is who we are

We are the visiting teachers who support networks of educators in their regions. Who are early learning leaders in their own right – mentoring educators and connecting regularly with families.  We are fully qualified and registered teachers who are masters of empathy, understanding, encouragement and coaching.  Our role is full and varied, with many demands equal to that of management roles in centre-based ECE services.

This is who we are

We are the service providers who have started businesses dedicated to home-based ECE provision, a service type that has been marginalised and under-funded for years. We care deeply about offering alternative models to centre-based childcare but are struggling to keep up with the operational demands of running services on a shoestring budget. We have contended with radical changes to the industry and incurred significant cost increases to manage these. We know how to do more with less, however, also know that our educators and visiting teachers are missing out on their right to be recognised. We care deeply about our people but they need help to ensure that those working in home-based ECE feel valued by the sector as a whole.

Who are we? We’re all a part of what makes home-based ECE the fastest growing part of the early learning sector. And we’re a passionate bunch. We believe in our kaupapa and the work that we have been called to do but we need more funding to do it.   

If we truly want to live into our aspirations as a country to create a culture of wellbeing, then the early years is the place to start.