Govt unveils funding boost for early childhood sector

Jacinda Ardern at the Summit in Auckland May 13. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Thousands of preschoolers with learning and behaviour problems are set to get extra support before they start school under a new funding increase unveiled today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who made the pre-Budget announcement at the Education Summit in Auckland this afternoon, said lack of funding for early intervention services had meant far too many children had missed out.

A funding boost of $21.5 million over four years would help nearly 8,000 more children get the support they needed over the next four years, she said.

She said all the evidence showed that children who had a high quality early childhood education had a head start on their learning that could set them up for life.

“There is a significant waiting list for children in particular, who need early intervention and support in that three and four-year-old category.”

“This funding…will help us clear that back log.”

Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said the extra funding was expected to halve the current waiting list for services, as well as help meet future demand pressures.

More frontline early-intervention staff would also be employed.

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