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Minimum Qualifications Introduced for Early Childhood Home-Based Educators

Tiny Nation welcomes Minister Hipkins’ announcement yesterday that the home-based early childhood education (ECE) and care sector will move to a fully qualified workforce by 2025.   The announcement comes following a review into home-based education and care in 2018 and a move to ensure better and more consistent quality for more than 17,000 New Zealand children enrolled in home-based services.

“Quality early learning helps provide children with a strong foundation for their future,” Chris Hipkins said.

The new standards introduced require all licensed home-based early childhood educators to hold, or be actively working toward, a grand-parented Level 3 ECE qualification, a Level 4 ECE qualification or Te Ara Tuarua (the Level 5 kōhanga reo qualification) or higher. Erin Maloney, Founding Director of Tiny Nation, a provider of home-based early learning and care, believes that these changes signal a move to lift the professionalism of the home-based sector and provide parents with high quality choices when it comes to childcare. As a new provider focused solely on growing trained networks by working only with qualified teachers and educators, Mrs. Maloney sees the move to a fully qualified workforce as a necessary move to showcase the best that home-based ECE has to offer.

“While introducing mandated qualifications is a significant shift for the sector, it recognises the place that home-based early learning provision has alongside its centre-based counterparts and professionalises the incredible work that our educators and nannies do to support high quality learning outcomes for the children in their care.

“Research shows that qualifications are strong indicator of quality education and care for children. Having an awareness of early childhood education, theories and philosophies provides educators with the tools and knowledge they need to give children the best possible start in life.”

Mrs Maloney also supports the move to a single quality rate for funding over the next five years, with qualification requirements being lifted annually between now and 2025 to actively encourage the shift to a qualified home-based workforce.

“I think it’s great that the transition to all educators being qualified is positive and proactive, with timeframes that support providers and educators to prepare for what it will take to train a workforce. The Government is injecting additional support to enable this and the timeframes enable educators who may have not trained at tertiary level before to engage with it in a meaningful and practical way alongside the work that they are already doing as an educator. Making on-the-job training possible will mean that hopefully we can retain the incredibly experienced, nurturing and passionate educators in our sector that currently don’t have any formal training.”

In a post-COVID world with parent choices around childcare shifting, Mrs Maloney believes that a move to a fully qualified workforce in home-based ECE will only serve to strengthen the many benefits that a home-based early learning environment already offers, including low adult to child ratios and small group sizes.

“We’ve built Tiny Nation based on a vision to empower a nation of children to reach their full potential. We truly believe that parents need to have diverse choices when it comes to finding childcare and education that fits with their aspirations and needs. We know that children have the best chance to flourish when they have secure attachments and a strong sense of belonging in their early years. Our small group sizes and connected relationships foster this. The move to a qualified workforce will in many ways make home-based ECE a more attractive option to parents as it gives them confidence to choose home-based for all of its benefits knowing that they can have confidence in consistent and high quality outcomes for their children.”

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