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Two year olds in ECE: A policy issue for New Zealand?

Jayne White, Gareth Ranger, and Mira Peter

A growing number of 2 year olds are now attending early childhood education (ECE) services nationally and internationally. However, New Zealand has been slow to address the specialist provision and needs for high quality ECE for 2 year olds. The current survey of 248 New Zealand ECE services examined the effect of this lacuna on practice and provision. The results show a lack of adequate funding for provision and emphasise the importance of optimal child–teacher ratios for 2 year olds. Safety, supervision, space, relational, and associated curriculum issues that balance routine, play, and other activities were identified as challenges the ECE services face in providing quality ECE for 2 year olds. Suggestions in terms of better ratios, flexible spaces, professional support for teachers, and New Zealand-based research are offered as priority areas for policy revision. We argue that granting serious attention to these issues would respond better to claims that ECE participation is beneficial for this age group, and in doing so bring New Zealand into alignment with other countries internationally.

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