Six changes in regulations are being worked on by the Ministry of Education. These changes are in the main good. However, there are some issues with wording and deficiencies which we hope the Ministry will acknowledge and fix before these become law.
You are welcome to send your own feedback to the Ministry.
1. Should a service engage in more licence breaches while already on a provisional licence can it get away with this?
Currently the Ministry will not add further conditions to a provisional licence, so these will never go on public record.
PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGE: The Ministry wants to amend regulations so that additional conditions can be added to a provisional licence. The Ministry would like to have the ability to add additional conditions to the provisional licence at the discretion of the Secretary for Education where this is considered to be fair and appropriate, to be met by a new deadline, but no later than 12-months from when the licence was reclassified as provisional. Consultation on this amendment now closes 21 February. Email your thoughts / recommendations to [email protected]
OUR VIEW: Cases of past licence breaches such as at the New Shoots Children’s Centre in Tauranga show why this proposed regulation amendment is needed. We suggest that the Ministry adds an amendment to its amendment to allow it to issue a service with a second provisional licence, to cover for situations when the existing provisional licence has just about reached its maximum 12-month term and not wait until the existing provisional licence has expired. We recommend that the Ministry remove the words “at the discretion of the Secretary for Education” where this is considered to be “fair” and “appropriate.” It would be wrong for the Ministry to pick and choose which additional licence breaches it includes on the existing provisional licence and undo the intent behind this regulation amendment. When a service has licence breaches and these breaches are not addressed through issue of a written directive, then all breaches must be reflected in conditions set on the provisional (or suspended) licence.
2. Can a service provider hold onto a licence indefinitely, perhaps with a view to selling it one day, even though the service is no longer operating?
PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGE: The Ministry intends to introduce a definition of ‘permanently ceased to operate’ so it can cancel such licences.
- The service provider has notified the Ministry of Education that it has permanently ceased to operate; or
- The Ministry of Education is made aware that a service has not been operating for a defined minimum period as evidenced by two or more of the following criteria:
- There being no children enrolled and/or attending the service; or
- There being no staff employed or engaged and working in the service; or
- The service provider has not claimed early childhood education funding.
The minimum time period for when a service has not been in operation before it is deemed to have permanently ceased to operate could be three months or more (option 1) or six months or more (option 2). Consultation on this amendment now closes 21 February. Email your thoughts / recommendations to [email protected]
OUR VIEW: We recommend that the phrase “no staff employed or engaged” be changed to “no teaching staff employed or engaged who are not the service provider, family or relatives of the service provider”, otherwise a service provider could still indefinitely hold onto the licence of a closed service simply by saying that they are engaged as a manager or an administrator or a family member is.
We recommend three months or more (option 1) to be consistent with the next proposal to allow services to temporarily close for up to 3 months. Also, six months is too long for families for an inoperable service to be sitting there, when another service could be permitted to open to provide ECE. If a service is closed for more than 3 months without applying for and being granted temporary closure (e.g. in the case of being affected by earthquake or flooding) then its licence should be cancelled, and it should be required to go through network management approval should it wish to re-open.
3. Can a service apply for temporary closure?
The answer is yes because the Ministry does this now even though it is not stated in regulations that the Ministry is allowed to grant temporary closures.
PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGE: The Ministry wants it to be added into regulations that the Secretary can grant a service provider, on application, approval to temporarily close their service for a period of up to three months, with the possibility of extension upon request. Consultation on this amendment now closes 21 February. Email your thoughts / recommendations to [email protected]
OUR VIEW: We support this regulation amendment. It is a sensible amendment and will allow service providers to have greater confidence that they can request temporary closure, and not feel compelled to stay open when it is not in the interests of children or there are safety concerns.
4. Are home-based educators supported by a person responsible who is ‘locally based’?
Currently, there is no definition of what ‘‘locally based” means.
PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGE: The Ministry intends that the person responsible:
- either reside, or have a permanent place of business from which they carry out their daily responsibilities, in the same local area as the educator(s) for which they are responsible
- be in sufficiently close proximity to the educator(s) and children for which they are responsible to be able to fulfil the obligations of their role, including but not limited to overseeing the day-to-day education and care, comfort, and health and safety of the children
- can be contacted by the educator(s) for whom they are responsible at all times those educators are providing education and care during the operating hours of the licensed service; and
- can attend in person, within a reasonable travel time for the location, if requested to do so by the educator to ensure the health and safety of children or if otherwise required in the event of an emergency.
Consultation on this amendment now closes 21 February. Email your thoughts / recommendations to [email protected]
OUR VIEW: We support the Ministry’s desire to amend the regulations to define ‘locally based”. We agree that the P.R. must be able to support educators during the hours that they have children and be able to quickly reach the educator’s home when there is an emergency. However, the way the proposed regulation amendment is currently framed is open and will lead to varying interpretations.
Licensed hours? or hours that children are attending? What if parents are late picking up their children – will the PR be required to stay in sufficiently close proximity? What would close proximity look like? Would it be defined in terms of travel time and whose travel time, or kilometre radius? There is no way for a home-based provider to demonstrate compliance with the proposed regulation amendment as it stands. Therefore, we recommend that a definition of ‘close proximity’ be included in the regulation amendment and that this definition be based on what close proximity means for the safety and welfare of children. Ideally within close proximity would be defined as at least “within the same local rural town, or within 30 minutes’ drive by car whether in a rural or urban area (as estimated on google maps). If a PR has to travel more than 1 hour by car to reach an educator’s home, this would be a concern both for the PRs wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the educator and children who do not receive timely support in an emergency, such as the educator needing to take their own child asap to the doctor.
5. If your service relocates can you keep the same licence and have it amended?
PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGE: The Ministry wants to allow any ECE centre that needs to permanently relocate because its land has been acquisitioned by the Crown to have its licence amended and be exempted from applying for approval to apply for a licence under the new Network management rules. This change in the regs is only to apply to licensed early childhood education and care centres, that are re-located in the same geographical area, serve the same or similar enrolled families or community, and the size of the centre and number of child places accommodated should not be materially different to the existing centre. The application for an amendment to permanently relocate must be made no less than 30 working days of the intended operational date of the new premises; and no later than 3 months from the date it is unable to continue operating at its current. Consultation on this amendment change now closes 27 February, 5pm. Email your thoughts / recommendations to [email protected]
OUR VIEW: We recommend that Ministry amends its proposed wording to be clearer on its intentions: change “licensed early childhood education and care centres” to “licensed early childhood education and care centres including both teacher-led and parent-led centres”. It must also allow services that relocate to increase the amount of regulated physical space per child. The size of the licensed space in the relocated centre must not be smaller than the existing centre but can be more spacious/larger.
6. Once licensed can any ECE service apply to amend its licence, such as to lift the number of children it is licensed for, regardless of network approval provisions?
PROPOSED REGULATION CHANGE: The Ministry wants to have the option to take network approval provisions into account when considering applications to amend a licence. It wants to introduce regulation so the Secretary for Education can take into account network approval provisions when considering an application to amend a licence. Consultation now closes 27 February, 5pm. Email your thoughts / recommendations to [email protected]
OUR VIEW: The Ministry should, for the avoidance of the appearance of bias in favour of or against any service provider, change the word “can” to “must” – i.e., the Secretary must take into account network approval provisions when considering an application to amend a licence. However, that still leaves the door open for ECE services to plan to apply for a licence amendment as soon as the Ministry grants them a licence, materially changing the conditions on which they won approval under network management. Therefore, the Ministry needs to add a clause to make it clear that services licensed under network management will not be considered by the Secretary for licence amendment within at least 5 years of gaining a licence, should the application for licence amendment be for a change to hours, community served, the purpose of the service, or increase the number of enrolled child spaces.