20 hours changes hinted
4:00 AM Thursday Apr 29, 2010

The Government is promising it will continue providing 20 hours' early childhood education a week but ministers aren't ruling out making parents pay more.

It was introduced by the previous Government as 20 hours' free early childhood education, but is actually a subsidy.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said yesterday that the cost of the scheme had nearly trebled over five years and was projected to continue rising at about $200 million a year.

"Twenty hours has never been free, we changed the name to 20 hours' early childhood education because ... parents were being charged for all sorts of other things," she said.

"I think there are cost pressures in early childhood education that are not necessarily adding to the quality of provision."

Asked whether she intended means-testing parents, Mrs Tolley said "wait for the Budget".

Prime Minister John Key said "we're looking at the scheme" and also told reporters to wait for the May 20 Budget.

- NZPA

From here.