The complaints system for early childhood education services is not a good one. It is still a difficult process for parents and the public to make a complaint and communicate with the Ministry.
The Ministry says it is now better at logging complaints and logged 360 complaints in 2014, up from 246 in 2013 and 247 in 2012.
“We updated our system so that all complaints about ECE services, received by our regional offices, were logged into our national electronic database. Before then, regional offices recorded data in a variety of ways, including paper-based systems.”
Making a complaint is still a difficult process though. Complaints should be able to be made in confidence, but Ministry staff are known to have told service providers the name of the teacher or parent who made the complaint against them or service providers have seen the name of the teacher or parent on the paperwork being held by the Ministry person.
Here is one parent’s story:
“I filed my complaint and received first contact from the Ministry about my complaint yesterday. She said my complaint process is not completed because I have to inform the ECE service that I am going to make a complaint. The lady from the Ministry said she couldn’t see the service provider’s response.
“It took me five weeks to do my best to communicate with the manager. I put everything in writing in the emails and communicated with the manager and the emails are all there, the manager’s responses. I consider emails a very common practice in writing in today’s world. I also gave the manager updated feedback but she never replied.
“I went back to look at the centre’s complaint procedures and there is not a single wording saying that it’s the parent’s responsibility to inform the ECE service about making a complaint to the Ministry.”
and several weeks later…
“We didn’t give up with our complaint. We managed to meet with the Senior ECE Advisor at the Ministry’s regional office but all she did was to check the paperwork and told us that the centre is meeting all the requirements. She even told the centre our names, yet she did not do anything about the issues of our case. Now we have had to take our case to the regional director of the Ministry of Education and hope that it will finally be looked into”.
First published on October 20, 2015.
The issues identified with the Ministry of Education’s complaints system in this article have yet to be properly addressed by the Ministry and the issues remain today
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How to make a complaint against an early childhood service and options.
Articles and research on the complaints system in early childhood education in NZ