National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women: Forty Years of Work 1967-2007
From the outset, NACEW was concerned about childcare, its quality and availability because mothers cannot participate in paid work unless their young children are being cared for in a quality environment. In the Council's first year one of its subcommittees was called Home and Family.  Childcare was a dilemma for NACEW. On the one hand, the Council recognised the importance of the need for quality provision in the early childhood sector for women who had young children and were in the workforce. On the other hand, the Council 'was concerned that mothers with pre-school children should be given every assistance to enable them to look after their [own] children.' At this time the expectation was that women gave up work when they married and stayed home to bring up their children.
NACEW did not want to act without reliable information so commissioned various research projects. In 1968, the Departmentof Labour prepared a report looking at the arrangements (private, commercial, local authority or government based) of holiday and after-school care. A comparison with similar facilities in America, Britain and Australia was also made.
In the 1970s, the interest and lobbying for quality early childhood services became more intense, as more women were in the workforce and wanting full or part time care for their young children. NACEW's increasing involvement and interest reflected this. Many other organisations, such as the Kindergarten Teachers Association (KTA), and the New Zealand Childcare Association were also lobbying for improved services.
Miriam Gilson, a NACEW member based at Victoria University, prepared a report on the employment patterns of married women in a sample of about 250 women in Wellington. About a fifth with pre-school children were in paid work. The childcare arrangements for this group showed that about half were able to take care of their own children by working at home or taking their children with them to work. She found that few of these families used 'commercial arrangements' suggesting that this may be because few childcare centres were available or they were too expensive.
In response to a letter from the Federation of Labour to the Minister of Labour about childcare centres the Department of Labour prepared the paper Pre-School Child Care - Part 1 - New Zealand which was presented to the Council. This paper showed the 'need for the care of children of working mothers in view of the continuing increases in their numbers and emphasised the importance in the case of pre-school children, which the facilities should cater for the emotional and educational development of the child and not just the child's care.' NACEW decided to wait for the findings of the Committee of Inquiry into Pre-school Education and the Royal Commission on Social Security. As part of an overseas visit, Ria McBride, a ministerial appointee of the Council, investigated childcare facilities in England, North America and Scandinavia. By 1973, NACEW agreed policy on pre-school education that 'any facilities provided must cater for the educational development of children, not simply their custodial care: and the pre-school arrangements should include services for the children of working mothers and the deprived child.' Around this time, the Department of Labour prepared a paper on holiday programmes and after-school care for school-age children, which prompted NACEW, in conjunction with the Department of Education, to consider a first priority for such programmes was implementation in the May and August school holidays.
In August 1973, NACEW prepared a statement on childcare services, which concluded that NACEW considers 'the development of an overall coherent policy on child care services, and their financing ... a matter of urgency.' This statement was a part of NACEW's submission to the Educational Development Conference. At this time, the Department of Labour researched employer-based childcare, and subsequently published the booklet Industrial day care. In this study parents and employers at workplaces that had childcare facilities were interviewed. Employers who showed an interest in setting up such a facility were also interviewed. The booklet set out how to set up a childcare centre including staffing and legal requirements, size, financial information and most importantly 'the need for the care provided by such centres to be of a high developmental nature rather than purely custodial'. NACEW was hoping that this publication would encourage more employers to set up facilities.
In 1978, NACEW presented a submission to the State Services Commission working group on early childhood care and education, which took until 1981 to complete its report. NACEW saw the developmental needs of the children of working parents as being the same as those of other children. It urged the integration of all early childhood services and recommended that an Early Childhood Development Division be established within the Department of Education with responsibility for the administration of all early childhood services.' 
In 1979, NACEW prepared and widely distributed a pamphlet to counteract the common myths about childcare, which also listed the qualities of a good childcare service.  This pamphlet was revised and reprinted in the next two years. The pamphlet was then reprinted by the Department of Education for inclusion in a kitset on childcare. The Council also contacted the YMCA, YWCA, and local authorities urging them to organise school holiday programmes.
In the late 1970s, the New Zealand economy moved into a recession and the financial constraints imposed by government impacted on a number of issues NACEW was concerned with, including the expansion of quality early childhood services. Development in early childhood education slowed in the next few years.
In 1985, the integration of all early childhood service became reality-the administration of childcare services moved from the Department of Social Welfare to the Department of Education, which was already responsible for kindergartens and playcentres. This was welcomed by NACEW as it signalled that childcare was not inferior to other early childhood services, and that the learning and development of children was a key consideration. It was a strategic move that positioned New Zealand to become a world leader in childcare policy and provision in the decades that followed.
In October 1985, the Prime Minister announced that a network of childcare centres mainly for children whose parents worked in the public service would be established. The capital costs were to be met by the government, with the centres being run by the parents who would pay the ongoing running costs. The number of centres to be established was capped at a relatively low figure, and many took time to open.
In 1995, research was started on the links between childcare and labour market participation, which was completed and published as New Zealand Childcare Survey, 1998. Four key issues were identified - labour market disadvantage, employment and childcare types, and cost of childcare. The survey findings suggested that, for mothers, taking care of their children had a significant impact on their participation in employment. For groups such as sole parents, low-income parents and Maori parents, this was even more of an issue. Better access to childcare for these parents was therefore identified as particularly important.
The survey also raised questions in relation to the type of childcare used and the employment of parents. On the one hand, many parents indicated that they wanted more formal arrangements to be made available, although the high use of unpaid family members suggested that parents (especially sole parents) favoured informal arrangements with low costs. Families with informal care arrangements were less happy with these arrangements than those with formal care arrangements, yet a lack of informal care was reported as a barrier. Cost emerged as a key issue for parents who opted more for low/no cost arrangements and was also identified as the most significant barrier to participation in employment, education/training and voluntary work. Access to affordable, quality childcare and the need for further out of school care programmes were two important issues to emerge from the survey.
In December 1999, NACEW held a Families and Work Seminar in Wellington to consider policy issues arising from this research, including parental employment and childcare use, issues for children in early childhood services, arrangements for pre-school children of work-rich and work-poor couples, and parents' work arrangements and informal care use.
In 2000, NACEW commissioned work on childcare by Lynda Byrne to explore the experiences of twenty women in the Hawkes Bay area who were combining working and caring for children. Her findings showed that childcare was expensive and led women to arrange work around available, informal childcare, or to take children to work with them. The cost and access to childcare made women's employment secondary to men's, and led to precarious labour market attachment. The women found that after having children it became difficult to return to their previous jobs. The report concluded that factors influencing women's employment decisions were complex and involved the home, economy and the state, and that it was impossible to disentangle the three when considering women's working lives.
In 2000/2001, NACEW contracted Annemarie Christopherson and Suzanne Snively to develop a draft list of key recommendations on the policy implications of the findings of the 1998 New Zealand Childcare Survey. NACEW focused on the barriers to work for women, in particular, sole mothers, the childcare issues facing parents of children with special needs, and issues for parents with more than one child. Also identified as being of significance was the impact of cultural differences for Maori, Pacific peoples and migrant parents; the care of sick children; transport issues (especially in Auckland); and the difficulties experienced by low income parents in accessing affordable childcare. The availability of after school care was also cited as a key issue in the consideration of the availability of childcare for parents in paid employment.
In 1970, there were 300 childcare centres catering for over 6,000 children. In 2006, there were 1,842 education and care centres for 86,059 enrolments., In the last 40 years, the administration of childcare has become integrated into the early childhood education sector. The sector itself is now more professional with staff becoming qualified teachers. There is greater diversity. Parents can choose to use kindergartens, which have shorter hours, or playcentre, which requires parental input, or kohanga reo, where the emphasis is on Maori language and kaupapa. There are early childhood education and care centres with particular philosophies such as Steiner or Montessori. Centres are required to be licensed, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. They must implement Te Whāriki, the early childhood education curriculum (1996). Better access to care and education services, and improving the quality of that care and education, have directed these changes. New Zealand has remained a leader in early childhood education internationally throughout NACEW's forty years. New Zealand's range of early childhood services and the introduction of a curriculum in this education sector has secured this reputation.
NACEW members brought specialist knowledge in this area to the Council. Beverley Morris, a lecturer at Wellington College of Education in early childhood education, was a NACEW member. Another NACEW member with experience in early childhood advocacy was Sonja Davies who was active in establishing the New Zealand Childcare Association. Currently Anne Meade, whose research and policy interests are high-quality early childhood teaching and learning, is on the Council. NACEW can be proud of its work in this area, both in advising Ministers of Labour of the importance of this issue to women and now stressing the importance of work-life balance to families with children.
After 40 years work on childcare, NACEW has changed emphasis in this area to work-life balance, and to paid parental leave. Suzanne Snively, a previous chair of NACEW, was a member of the government's Work-Life Balance Project, which recommended a three-year work programme on work-life balance. NACEW commissioned a case study research interviewing four women about their experiences of balancing paid work and family responsibilities and other commitments. Their stories were put into the pamphlet Work-Life Balance: What's that?, which included strategies to help achieve work-life balance. In June 2005, NACEW commissioned research on Decisions about Caring and Working: A Qualitative Study. This work has increased the understanding of decisions made by men and women who have caring responsibilities and how, when and why they participate in paid work.
 There were five other subcommittees – Education and training, Vocational guidance, New employment opportunities, and Promotion and Advisory, and an Executive Subcommittee.
 NACEW Annual Report, p. 7.
 The Annual Report for NACEW 1967/68 notes ‘…the Department on Holiday and After-School Arrangements for the Care of Children …’. It is assumed that this refers to the Department of Labour.
 NACEW Annual Report, pp. 6-7.
 NACEW Annual Report 1968, p. 7.
 NACEW Annual Report 1970, p. 7 and NACEW Annual Report 1971, p. 7.
 NACEW Annual Report 1971, p. 7
 The Report of this Committee of Inquiry was presented in 1971.
 The Royal Commission on Social Security reported in 1972.
 Education in the years before primary school has been known in a number of ways – pre-school education, early education, early years education. Currently the preferred term is early childhood education, and those working in the area are early childhood teachers. This term covers all types of early childhood education such as kindergartens, playcentres, Montessori education, kohango reo, and childcare centres.
 NACEW Annual Report 1972, p. 3
 A four-term school year was introduced in 1996. Prior to this the school year had three terms with the holiday periods being at Christmas and then in May and August.
 Appendix to NACEW Annual Report 1973.
 Department. of Labour with the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women, Industrial day care: a practical guide., Wellington, 1975.
 NACEW Annual Report 1975, p. 2.
 At this time childcare centres, that is full day centres, were administered through the Department of Social Welfare, whilst other early childhood services, such kindergartens were administered by the Department of Education.
 NACEW Annual Report 1978,p. 2.
 NACEW Annual Report 1979, p. 5.
 NACEW Annual Report 1999/2000, p.1-2.
 This included all centres not deemed to be a free kindergarten or a playcentre.
 May, Helen, Politics in the Playground, Wellington, 2001, p. 109.
 NACEW Annual Report 1983, p. 3.