By JODY O'CALLAGHAN Last updated 05:00 26/09/2013
Parents can now rate and see the shames and successes of early childhood centres on a website that aims to introduce more transparency to the sector.
The free site - myece.org.nz - was launched today by early childhood expert Sarah Alexander, who developed the concept after a Fairfax investigation into the case of a baby being left behind after hours in a Porirua centre.
Neighbours had to break into the Samoan Early Education Development Services (Seeds) centre after a 9-month-old boy was left alone in his cot when it closed on February 20.
The Education Ministry and Education Review Office reinstated its licence and vowed to monitor the centre regularly.
Alexander believed neglect incidents should be recorded and made available to parents researching where to send their children.
It was important in post-quake Christchurch for parents to know which centres were open and how their facilities and upgrades were faring, she said.
Prospective parents were previously "none the wiser" unless incidents were reported in the media.
"There is a big lack of transparency there. It's good for parents to know so they can just say, ‘What are you doing now to make sure it doesn't happen again'?"
The Government was driving to increase early childhood education participation, but a 2011 National policy to provide parents with interactive web tools and "straight-forward information" about local services never became reality, she said.
"I think it really, really needs to be done. We've saved the Government money by doing this ourselves."
Education Ministry deputy secretary of early education Rawiri Brell said the Education Review Office (ERO) website offered a lot of advice to parents.
"It's always good for parents to have as much information as possible to help them make decisions about where to enrol their children."
ERO staff regularly visited all early childhood services, and reports were published on its website.
Alexander said her site would progressively offer an independent directory of the more than 4000 licensed early childhood services nationwide.
She would be encouraging comments and ratings from the parents of nearly 200,000 children in early childhood education across the country.
For more go to the Press newspaper.