'Free hours' easing cost of preschool
4:00AM Wednesday August 27, 2008
By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

More families are finding preschool costs easily affordable, according to a major new survey.

The researchers say the change is partly linked to the Government's controversial "free hours" early childhood education policy.

The independent study found 43 per cent of parents surveyed last year found early childhood education services easily affordable, up from 24 per cent in a similar survey in 2003.

But parents in the $30,000 to $49,000 income range were most likely to say they had some difficulties paying or found it "barely affordable".

Writers of the report - commissioned by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research - said even some high-income families had trouble with the cost.

"This indicates the difficulties of designing a targeted funding system that effectively caters for the disposable incomes of all families."

The study - produced by Massey University's Dr Linda Mitchell - said fees charged to parents for early childhood education ranged from nothing to $250 a week.

More here.