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Childcare—Licensing

Thursday 11 October 2007 Hansard source (external site)

Bennett8. PAULA BENNETT (National) Link to this
to the Minister of Education

Are creches at pools, gyms, Sunday schools, and at-home babysitters now all required to be licensed; if so, why?

DysonHon RUTH DYSON (Minister of Labour) Link to this

Creches at pools, gyms, and Sunday schools have had to be licensed since 1989. At-home babysitters have never had to be licensed. The regulations are designed to keep children safe. As I have already made clear in answer to questions from the member and her colleagues, the regulations are currently under review, and anyone with a view on this matter is encouraged to make a submission.

BennettPaula Bennett Link to this

Will the ministry be contacting babysitters in their homes to tell them to be licensed?

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

Perhaps it would assist the member if I could repeat the answer to the primary question, which clearly she has missed. At-home babysitters have never had to be licensed.

BennettPaula Bennett Link to this

Did the ministry phone a Nelson woman, who had lost her job after the gym creche she worked at was closed down, at her home on 27 September and tell her she was breaking the law by babysitting children in her home, and what is next—will neighbours and grandparents who babysit children have to become qualified and licensed centres?

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

I think it is hugely ironic that over the last few weeks the National Party has been kicking up a frenzy about unqualified and unsuitable teachers who are in charge of our classrooms, and now the member is advocating that anybody can have care of our children without any regulatory protection at all.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The member’s question, which affected a constituent of mine who was phoned by the ministry, was very specific and asked whether the ministry phoned this woman, who had lost her job as a consequence of the ministry closing down her creche, and told her that she was unable to babysit children at her home. I listened to the Minister’s answer. She was making no attempt whatsoever to answer it.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Please be seated. The Minister was taking a very long time to get to the point of her answer. I ask her to please complete her answer.

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

I have completed it.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Well, would the member please then repeat her answer.

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

The point I was making was that babysitters in the home have not ever been required to be licensed, and are not now. If the member is advocating that children are cared for by parents in creches that do not have qualified staff with supervisory skills, then it is totally in opposition to the position Katherine Rich has been whipping up a frenzy about, up and down the country, concerning unqualified, untrained, and unsuitable teachers being in charge of our children. The member needs to make up her mind. Does she want our children to be safe, or not?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The question did relate to a specific case. Would the Minister please address that case.

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

The issue is about whether the person in question was operating a creche or babysitting, and that was the response I appropriately gave in answer to that question.

MackeyMoana Mackey Link to this

What steps has the Government taken to increase access to quality early childhood education?

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

Under the Labour-led Government we have made huge progress towards making quality early childhood education available to every New Zealand child. We have created approximately 5,400 early childhood places through the discretionary grants scheme, increased the number of qualified early childhood teachers, introduced a funding system that acknowledges cost drivers for centres, reviewed regulations to make them more clear and transparent, and introduced 20 hours a week free early childhood education for 3 and 4-year-olds. This policy, I note, is under threat from National, which opposes it.

BennettPaula Bennett Link to this

Has the Minister already approved an exemption as stated by the Ministry of Education’s southern manager, Coralanne Child, that “One change that is confirmed for next year is the introduction of an exemption from regulations for centres such as gym creches, provided they operate for no more than 4 hours per week.”; if so, will the Minister now be setting the timetable for when these parents can exercise—does she suggest that opening one morning a week, or for 1 hour four times a week, is suitable?

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

The regulations have been in place since 1989. They are under review. I urge the member, if she has a positive contribution to make, to do so. It is my view that parents should be able to exercise and should also know that their children are safe at that time.

BennettPaula Bennett Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think that the question I asked was incredibly to the point. It was not answered at all. I asked whether the Minister has already approved an exemption.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

I listened carefully because I anticipated that would be the case. I think the Minister in this case did address the question.

BennettPaula Bennett Link to this

If the Minister can approve an exemption of 4 hours a week without a whole lot of palaver, then why cannot the ministry just let some common sense prevail and put some basic safety precautions in place and let these parents decide when they will exercise and who will look after their own children?

DysonHon RUTH DYSON Link to this

The exemptions are outlined in the regulatory regime that has been in place since 1989. If creches meet the conditions for an exemption, then I consider they should apply.

BennettPaula Bennett Link to this

I seek the leave of the House to table the Nelson Mail article that says “Babysitter steps in to help gym mums”.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that article. Is there any objection? There is objection.

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