Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand says much more must be done to ensure our youngest tamariki have faster access to early intervention services.
‘While we agree with Associate Minister of Education, Tracey Martin that it takes time to train experts and a system change is needed, the current Disability and Learning Support Action Plan does not include tamariki under five,’ says Te Rito Maioha Chief Executive, Kathy Wolfe.
‘Today’s waiting times are unacceptable, particularly when you consider how quickly young tamariki develop in the first 1000 days. That is why we also need an interim solution for early childhood education.
‘For example, if some of the current funding was directed to teacher aides and support staff, early learning services could afford to employ these staff for more hours so they could provide more care for the tamariki and whānau that need it the most.’
Looking more broadly, Te Rito Maioha believes that the Early Learning Strategic Plan must be beefed up to include universal provision of early intervention.
‘We have repeatedly voiced our concern over the years about the desperate need for appropriate and accessible early intervention support for tamariki,’ says Kathy.
‘Research shows that the sooner tamariki and whānau receive the support they need, the more likely the tamariki are to succeed in their education.
‘In addition, timely intervention is critical to safeguard the mental wellbeing of teachers.’