Open letter to Minister Hipkins

13 May 2021

 

Dear Mr Hipkins

I watched with interest on Wednesday as you announced a move towards pay parity for teachers in early childhood education (ECE) centres. You said a funding increase of $170 million was intended to help these teachers move towards pay parity with their equivalents in kindergartens. I applaud this move and the increased recognition of the role of Kaiako in early learning services, however, was disappointed to see that it appears home-based services have been excluded from this funding increase.

Did you forget about us?
About the tamariki enrolled with home-based services 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.

Did you forget about us?

About 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.

Did you forget about us?

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

Did you forget about us?

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

Did you forget about us?
About 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. Service providers who care deeply about offering alternative models to centre-based childcare but who are struggling to keep up with the operational demands of running services on a shoestring budget. These providers have contended with radical changes to the industry and significant cost increases to manage these. They know how to do more with less, however, they also know that their educators and visiting teachers are missing out on their right to be recognised. These service providers care deeply about their people but they need help to ensure those working in home-based feel valued by the sector as a whole.

Don’t forget about us Minister Hipkins. About all of us – the tamariki, the whānau and community, the educators, the visiting teachers and the service providers. 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 your help to do it.   When you forget about us, you de-value us and create a divide in our sector. You make it hard for us to retain the great educators, Kaiako and visiting teachers that are so treasured by those they care for.  

At the end of the day, we are all after the same thing – the best possible outcomes for our tamariki. It’s time to come together and recognise the role that each part of the early learning sector plays in this. We all deserve to be acknowledged for the work that we do.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Erin Maloney

President of the NZ Home Base Association