Unicef report says New Zealand childcare good quality but unaffordable

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Jun 2021, 6:41PM
A Unicef survey on childcare ranked Aotearoa at 33 out of 44 in the report. Photo / 123RF
A Unicef survey on childcare ranked Aotearoa at 33 out of 44 in the report. Photo / 123RF

Unicef report says New Zealand childcare good quality but unaffordable

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Jun 2021, 6:41PM

A new report shows that while New Zealand has the third-best childcare in the OCED and EU, it is one of the most expensive.

A Unicef survey titled "Where do rich countries stand on childcare?" ranked Aotearoa at 33 out of 44 in the report.

Countries were judged on leave, access, quality and affordability.

In New Zealand, a couple on an average income would need to spend between a third and a half of one salary to pay for two children in full-time care.

Unicef New Zealand chief executive Michelle Sharp said low-income families were missing out.

"That basically means that an average couple in New Zealand of income earners would have to spend 37 per cent of their salaries to put two children to full-time childcare, which is a huge amount."

The report pointed out that Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland had the least affordable childcare for the middle-class population.

Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft called the report on childcare by Unicef: "fascinating but troubling".

He was reassured that the quality of care was high, but was surprised by some information.

"I hadn't realised we were so far down the table in partner support, and I didn't realise that we were so relatively costly, and that's a problem for me."

Becroft believed increasing the family tax credit would help make childcare more affordable.

In New Zealand, mothers are entitled to 26 weeks paid parental leave, and partners to two weeks of unpaid leave.

Victoria University Professor of Early Childhood Studies Carmen Dalli said the report showed the country was doing some things well, "it's a good reminder that the work is not yet done".

"We should not underplay the finding about quality: because it's the quality of services that matters for children's development.

"This government has a policy focus on wellbeing; improving affordability and longer parental leave would support wellbeing for children as well as for families and all of society."

Top 10 countries for childcare according to Unicef

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Iceland
  3. Sweden
  4. Norway
  5. Germany
  6. Portugal
  7. Latvia
  8. Denmark
  9. South Korea
  10. Estonia

By Tom Kitchin of RNZ