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Education Minister Hekia Parata was unable to attend the New Zealand HomeBased Childcare Association's conference in Queenstown on Saturday, but through a representative she issued a challenge to delegates.
Ministry of Education group manager for early childhood education (ECE) Karl Le Quesne read the minister's speech to home-based educators from throughout the country.
In the speech, Ms Parata emphasised the need for Maori and Pasifika children to participate in early childhood education and said that despite the rapid growth of the home-based sector, ''fewer of the children attending home-based ECE are Maori and Pasifika children compared to other service types''.
She challenged the home-based education sector to add about 650 Maori children and 600 Pasifika children to its education system.
''We want to work with you, and the rest of the home-based sector, to identify ways you can increase your enrolment of these children in quality ECE.''
She said home-based ECE could play a critical role in supporting families and children - especially Maori and Pasifika children - from poorer backgrounds and children with special educational needs.
The Government had announced a target of having 98% of children participating in quality ECE before starting school, as ''we know that children who start behind, too often stay behind, and that the achievement gap tends to widen as they get older''.
She also said home-based educators ''help ensure parents of young children can work, study and train, especially sole parents, who work outside regular hours''.
New Zealand HomeBased Childcare Association president Carol Stovold, based in Tauranga, told the Otago Daily Times that with Queenstown's burgeoning hospitality industry, home-based child care was a viable option.
She said children who participated in quality home-based child care were able to ''take part in their community'' and consequently head off to school well-grounded.
Au Pairs came under the licensing for home-based child care.
During the conference the inaugural New Zealand Educator of the Year award was presented to Olivia Rees, from The Nanny Company.
Home-based child care educator Educarents' newest branch is in Queenstown.