Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

Home-based child care saves the Govt money - HEF

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The ‘Social Obligations’ in the government’s Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill will force beneficiaries to send their preschool children to an approved early childhood education (ECE) provider for at least 15 hours per week. One of the reasons for this is obviously in order to remove obstacles to the parents finding jobs and getting off the benefit sooner. But Barbara Smith, of the Home Education Foundation (HEF) of New Zealand, says that the cost of subsidised ECE can outweigh the cost of the benefit.

"The average cost of a year’s ECE for one child attending 15 hours per week is approximately NZ$5,112.90 per year," says Mrs Smith. "This is how much a solo parent on the benefit will save the government per year per preschool child if she cares for her children at home."

But, says Mrs Smith, the quality of care available at home, with its constant mental stimulation, interaction with adults, and parent mentoring, is something which New Zealand ECE in its current state is unable to provide.

"In the US, a cost analysis carried out by Arthur J Rolnick and Rob Grunewald of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis looked at the cost of raising the quality of ECE services. They concluded that the total resources needed for a high-quality ECE program for an at-risk 3 or 4 year old would be about US$10,000 - 15,000 per student per year for a full-day programme that included parent mentoring.

"A mother caring for her children at home, especially if she provides learning materials, as many do, is giving her child a high quality, full-day programme that includes parent mentoring-and the government doesn’t have to spend a cent."

Mrs Smith says that this is exactly what home educating mothers-whether they plan for their children to attend school once they reach school age or not-do when they decide to provide home-based child care for their children.

"A mother providing home-based child care for her preschoolers is offering a better product than available at the registered ECE providers," says Mrs Smith, citing research available on the HEF website. "And she’s providing it for free."

But as Mrs Smith points out, many of these mothers go on to educate their children at home through their school years. That’s when the savings really begin to mount.

"According to Ministry of Education statistics, New Zealand spends about $6,790.51 per primary school student per year and $8,501.67 per secondary school student per year. This is how much money home educating sole parents save the government annually. A single mother home educating three children could be saving the government around $22,000 per year, which is more than her benefit.

"If she has special needs children, she could save the government even more: special schools spend up to $160,000 per year on each student."

The government should recognise the cost benefits of home-based child care, both socially and financially, says Mrs Smith. "If the Social Security Bill passes, it will be illegal to make this responsible choice to care for your children at home. It doesn’t make sense."

All articles and comments on Voxy.co.nz have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.