Angst over pro­posed ex­tra kindy hour

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - AMY BAKER

Sev­eral Up­per Har­bour kinder­gartens will soon be open for an ex­tra hour a day as part of an Auck­land-wide change which has been crit­i­cised by some par­ents.

Most cen­tres be­long­ing to the Auck­land Kinder­garten As­so­ci­a­tion (AKA) are pro­posed to have their open­ing hours ex­tended from a six to seven-hour day by the end of 2018.

Prepa­ra­tion for the change will af­fect Up­per Har­bour’s Col­will, When­u­a­pai and Hob­sonville kinder­gartens from term four.

How­ever, par­ents are wor­ried about how the hours in­crease will af­fect at­ten­dance charges and the kinder­garten model.

At present, chil­dren who at­tend early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion (ECE) are sub­sidised by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to re­ceive 20 free hours a week, up to six hours a day.

With the new AKA model of a pro­posed two-day, seven-hour per day min­i­mum en­rol­ment, par­ents would need to pay for the ad­di­tional sev­enth hour of the kinder­garten day. Ex­tra hours are cur­rently charged at $5 per hour.

AKA kinder­gartens would also re­main open through­out school hol­i­days, ex­cept dur­ing the Christ­mas and New Year pe­riod.

A par­ent, who prefers not to be named, said the con­cern about an ex­tra hour per day not sim­ply about ‘‘an ad­di­tional hour per day in iso­la­tion’’.

Due to the pro­posed min­i­mum en­rol­ment, par­ents would now have no way of us­ing their 20 free sub­sidised hours with­out pay­ing, the par­ent said. Three ad­di­tional hours at $15 per week would come to $735 per year. Even if chil­dren did not at­tend kinder­garten for the full seven hours or dur­ing the hol­i­day pe­ri­ods, it is pro­posed that they would be charged ac­cord­ing to their en­rolled hours.

AKA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tanya Har­vey said in­creased hours was about meet­ing the com­mu­nity’s needs and to pro­vide flex­i­bil­ity for fam­i­lies.

‘‘If par­ents are given the flex­i­bil­ity they need to make things work for their fam­i­lies, it’s go­ing to be bet­ter for chil­dren.’’

Over a 20-year pe­riod, kinder­gartens had de­clined from around an 80 per cent to 12 per cent mar­ket share, and the changes were about en­sur­ing a se­cure fu­ture for kinder­gartens, Har­vey said.

She said chil­dren wouldn’t be ob­li­gated to at­tend dur­ing hol­i­days as long as they were within the terms of at­ten­dance re­quire­ment, and if the changes went ahead, par­ents would not be charged dur­ing a six-month tran­si­tion pe­riod.Feed­back would also be gath­ered from each in­di­vid­ual kinder­garten com­mu­nity be­fore changes were made.

123RF

Due to the pro­posed min­i­mum en­rol­ment, par­ents would now have no way of us­ing their 20 free sub­sidised hours with­out pay­ing.

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