Preschool vs daycare in New Zealand is a widely debated topic. Preschool and daycare are two different options for your child’s early education. Although New Zealand is a large country with a wide range of ECE services, finding a place can be difficult, especially in the bigger cities. The curriculum used in this sector is called Te Whariki (which means “woven mat” in Hawaiian). You can find more information on Te Whariki at the Ministry of Education.


Costs of preschool vs daycare in New Zealand

Costs of preschool and daycare in New Zealand have skyrocketed over the last decade. Some are now the same as private school fees. A recent survey by Statistics NZ showed that the cost of early childhood education has risen by 34 per cent since 2000 – more than twice the rate of inflation. One Hamilton family paid $240 a week for their son’s childcare until he was three. This worked out to more than $11,000 over a 48-week year.

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Generally speaking, children aged two and under are funded at a higher rate than children aged three and above. In absolute terms, the funding rate increases the more qualified the staff, but in the end, a higher funding rate is still required for children over three. The rates are calculated by calculating the proportion of qualified staff that are working at a centre at any one point in time. A minimum of 50% qualified staff is required to be eligible for the funding scheme. The subsidy increases once the centre reaches 80 per cent, qualified staff.


Differences between preschool and daycare

The early childhood sector in New Zealand was shaped by government market-led policies which favoured profit-making childcare services. In 1992, 42% of education and care centres were privately owned, but by 2001 this figure had more than doubled to 51%. Private owners lobbied against government support of early childhood education programmes, demanding lower pay, fewer staff qualifications and worse working conditions. However, the change of government in 1999 saw a shift in policy direction and emphasis was placed on the concept of ‘participation as a citizen’.

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While the New Zealand government still subsidizes kindergartens, it has also begun charging fees for their services. The government has stated that this policy will increase access to early childhood education.


Impact of ’20 hours free’ policy on the cost of education for working families

In the U.S., four million children are born each year. Twenty-three percent of children live in households below the federal poverty level, and another 20 percent live in households between 200 percent of the federal poverty level and the poverty level. That means that there are 3.6 million children under the age of five living in poverty.

The cost of child care is out of reach for many working families and has affected the economy as a whole. Childcare expenses have pushed one in four working families out of the middle class. The ’20 hours free’ policy, which allows working families to send their kids to school for 20 hours a week, could help improve that situation.

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