‘Nanny State’ Takes on New Meaning with ECE Policy

Family First NZ says that the just released government policy on Early Childhood Education centre sizes is flawed, harmful to children, babies and parents, and will end up treating children with less dignity than animals.

“The new regulations announced by the government will triple the maximum number of under two’s at a centre from 25 to 75, and the maximum centre size of all pre-schoolers from 50 to 150,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This policy is giving new meaning to ‘nanny state’ – the assumption that ‘professionals’ can look after babies and children because parents are more valuable working. This flawed thinking has failed to examine the research on the effects of long periods of childcare – especially on young children and babies, but also on the parents.”

“Why is the government in a blind rush to pay hundreds of millions for professionals to care for ‘packs’ of 75 babies, but offer no tax breaks or financial recognition for parents who sacrifice careers and income to do it – at a far more economical rate, and more beneficial to all the family members.”

A Department of Labour study found that 75% of mums want at least 12 months paid parental leave but were going back to work after 6 months because of financial necessity. The Ministry of Social Development found that a third of all working couples say they are unhappy they both have to work. And almost 60% of mums with children under the age of three are rejecting full-time work and are choosing to be fulltime mums.

NZ’s Brainwave Trust says ‘The early attachment between parents and their baby creates a foundation for that child’s future relationships with others. Smiling, singing, touching and cuddling as part of attuned, responsive care is necessary to develop this part of the brain.’ The New Zealand Council for Educational Research released a report in 2007 that found poor staff ratios for under-twos posed a potential developmental risk for infants and babies, and that crowded settings were unsuitable.

“An analysis of research across a number of countries clearly indicates that increased use of childcare is associated with a decrease in the well-being of both children and the parents,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The government seems to be adopting a ‘stack-em pack-em’ approach. But government policy and spending should enable parents to have the choice to parent ‘hands-on’ – so that the children are raised in the best environment possible.”

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