Kindergartens face job cuts over low funding

Kindergartens face job cuts over low funding

More than 80 kindergartens in the lower North Island are facing job cuts because of a lack of funding, and parents are concerned it'll affect the quality of education.

Alexandra Baker started at Pukerua Bay Kindergarten on Tuesday. She has an older brother there too, and her mother says she chose the kindy for its high quality teaching.

"A two-and-a-half-year-old coming here if they were under-staffed and under-funded? I just couldn't take that risk," says Libby Baker.

Whanau Manaaki is the non-profit group behind 85 kindergartens across the region. It has to restructure because of "ongoing funding shortfalls".

"It's something we never wanted to do, but we're faced with it because of an inability of Government to see the importance of early childhood," says Whanau Manaaki chief executive Amanda Coulston.

She says the Government cut funding by 14 percent in 2010 because it didn't believe kindergartens needed to be fully-staffed by qualified teachers. The funding hasn't increased since then.

"I think that says everything about the Government's lack of commitment to early childhood education," says Labour's education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

Other kindergarten groups say they're feeling the funding squeeze.

Whanau Manaaki is looking at redundancies or longer opening hours to increase funding, and teachers could be asked to cut their hours.

"I have to review my own personal situation, what kind of reduction I could swallow and I haven't got there yet," says Pukerua Bay Kindergarten teacher Nicky van Dam.

She says it's a worrying time but they're putting on "brave faces" for the parents and students.

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