Fuseworks Media

Will Family Boost funding reach those families who need it most?

The confirmation that Family Boost will proceed is a positive step forward,” says Kathy Wolfe CE Te Rito Maioha.

“Anything that helps parents afford quality childcare education is welcome, but the proof will be the reach of the policy and how parents negotiate the complicated claim-back process.”

The rebate scheme enables households to claim back up to 25% ($75 a week) for families earning $140,000 and gradually reducing for families earning up to $180,000. However, the policy requires parents to pay ECE costs upfront, and then claim the rebate back from the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) with receipts uploaded every three months.

“In a cost-of-living crisis and with the government indicating they are struggling to fund all their coalition policy commitments, having Family Boost confirmed for families is a welcome relief,” says Kathy Wolfe.

“Unfortunately, the implementation of the policy may create a number of barriers to participation.”

Accessing the rebate

Affordability

Reach of the policy

“Families with limited access to computers and limited knowledge of the Inland Revenue Department, could well struggle to access the rebates which is a real equity concern, however we hope that the implementation will have some easy and sound solutions.”

“A further worry is that those families that are already struggling and not participating in ECE will be unable to pay the upfront costs of ECE, given the rebate requires three months of fees before a claim can be made. That could mean families trying to find thousands of dollars in upfront costs, and then waiting for the IRD to process the claim. That could be a real barrier that excludes families on lower incomes.”

“The policy is also structured per household. That means that families with a higher number of children will receive a reduced rebate per child which will disproportionately affect the funding per child for some families. Further, whether the policy will reach all parents remains to be seen.”

“Our hope is that that ECE providers are able to support parents by providing this documentation in a format that makes it easier for parents to navigate the IRD, but we also acknowledge this will create further work for providers and we know we wish to keep teachers educating – not doing administration.”

“While Family Boost is welcome news for parents, the sector is still looking to the government for a full review of the funding structure which is not fit for purpose and is setting the sector up for failure. Even the Prime Minister acknowledged Aotearoa is one of the most expensive in early childhood education. Addressing the systemic investment is where solutions need to be found. We owe it to our tamariki to get these fundamentals right,” says Kathy Wolfe.

 

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