Thursday, June 20, 2024

Pay parity boost and home-based funding changes confirmed for early learning sector

The Government has confirmed a raft of early learning funding changes to boost teacher pay, address systemic issues in the ECE funding model, and support the home-based sector, Associate Education Minister, Jo Luxton, announced today.

The Minister said a pay parity increase for education and care service teachers will be introduced on December 1 to maintain full parity rates for early learning centres that choose to opt in.

“This will see some pay increases from current salaries of up to $6,850 for those working in a teacher role, and $7,353 for those working in a management role,” Ms Luxton said.

“This builds on the Budget 2023 pay parity initiative which introduced a third set of opt-in funding rates for education and care teachers to be paid in line with the pre-settlement kindergarten salary steps from 1 November 2023.”

The Minister said New Zealand is facing a tight fiscal environment and the Government needs to be responsible in its spending.

Further salary increases after December 2023 to continue to maintain parity with school and kindergarten teachers as further settlement adjustments roll out in 2024 will therefore need to be determined in future budgets, she said.

“That said, the introduction of the new rate as it stands will make a big difference in the pay of many of our hardworking early learning teachers.”

“This major step follows our Government in 2020 committing to move towards pay parity for certificated teachers in ECE education and care services with their kindergarten counterparts. The extra investment of over $450 million we’re making to meet this milestone follows the $909 million our Government has already committed to pay parity over the last four budgets.”

Services will be able to opt into the new pay parity funding rate for their certificated teachers from November 1. The salary changes following on from the secondary teacher settlement will then be passed onto opted in services on December 1. Full funding rate details will be published on the Ministry of Education’s website tomorrow by 12pm.

The Government also announced a commitment to a long term, multi-year, funding review today.

“It has been clear for a long time out current ECE funding model is not serving the ECE sector well and is no longer fit for purpose,” Minister Luxton said.

“In my many conversations with the sector and in the submissions to the Pay Parity Funding Review Consultation, I’ve heard loud and clear that a funding review is something that the sector wants and knows is necessary.

“Work on determining the shape and scope of the review will be done alongside the early learning sector and will begin in the next term of government.”

The Minister said the Government has also today agreed that home-based educators can charge a nominal amount on top of the 20 Hours ECE to support their income.

“In Budget 2023, the Government announced that the 20 Hours ECE subsidy will be extended to two-year-olds from 1 March 2023. This is an important initiative to help ease cost of living pressures for many parents of young children doing it tough,” she said.

“We recognised that home-based services faced specific issues with this change, and that is why the Government has now agreed that home-based educators may charge a nominal amount on top of the 20 Hours ECE to support their income.

“These ‘top-up payments’ for home-based educators will have limits to ensure a good balance between affordability of ECE for parents and fairness for home-based educators.

“This change will come into effect on 1 March 2024. Families eligible for the Childcare Subsidy, the Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment, and Early Learning Payment from the Ministry of Social Development will be able to use these subsidies to help pay this new charge,” she said.

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