Patrick Gower: New Zealand daycares are in disaster, desperately need to be fixed

OPINION: This week my issue is what I call the "disaster in our daycares".

We should be able to take care of our most vulnerable little people, our babies and toddlers. But the sad fact is we aren't.

Our investigation into Early Childhood Education found some centres are actually pretty dangerous for our kids. 

Dangerous for their health. Dangerous for their development.

Leading early childcare expert and public health specialist, Mike Bedford, even told me it amounts to "state-funded child abuse". 

It is shocking out there. 

And let's face it, It is tough enough for working parents as it is. 

The constant juggle between work and home leaves parents feeling guilty and tired - you should be able to drop your kids off in the morning at daycare and not have to worry about how well they’re being looked after. But the reality is, you should be worried - really worried.

The entire early childhood sector is basically in chaos. Teachers are leaving. Small independently owned or not-for-profit centres are closing. Big corporations are making huge profits. Waiting lists are out of control. Regulations are lax and it is bloody expensive.

There are heaps of problems, but right at the top of the list is the ratio of one teacher to every five babies aged under two. 

And one teacher to every 10 kids aged over two.

Every teacher and expert says these are nuts and bad for our kids. It causes them issues with noise, stress and emotional insecurity.

There are lots of solutions out there but changing the ratio is right at the top.

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Mike Bedford reckons this would improve things for the kids and improve workplaces enough that teachers would come back.

But ask Labour or National about what they will do, and there is no plan, no immediacy from either of them.

What's that about? These are our kids and our babies.  What the hell are we doing? 

The most basic rule of life is that children come first. But we're putting our tamariki into a broken and busted system. 

As I said, there are lots of solutions.  But what's lacking? Urgency. There needs to be urgency. 

Our kids need us to fix this. Now. 

Patrick Gower hosts Paddy Gower Has Issues - watch it on Three or ThreeNow.