Impact of Covid-19 on the early childhood education sector in Aotearoa New Zealand: Challenges and opportunities. Initial findings from a survey of managers
Authors: Authors: Linda Mitchell, Edith Hodgen, Patricia Meagher-Lundberg and Clare Wells.
The survey findings reported here present a picture of the initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on early childhood education (ECE) services from the perspectives and experiences of managers from education and care services, kindergarten associations, playcentre regions and homebased services. The survey covered the period March to June 2020, as New Zealand moved through Lockdowns 4 and 3, and Level 2 to Level 1. The report explores the crucial role ECE services played in responding quickly to support workers, families and children when the virus spread to this country. They provided education and care for children of essential workers during lockdowns, communicated with families and staff, offered distance learning opportunities when children were unable to attend ECE, and brokered access to social, health and financial support for families who needed it. Attention was paid to staff wellbeing and professional development. Teachers made the ECE environment safe for children’s return. The report explores challenges concerning the sustainability of ECE services and raises critical questions regarding funding and planning. It suggests now is a good time to rethink the purpose of ECE, to redefine ECE as a public good, and to plan, fund and support it accordingly.