Yu Yan is a Chinese grandmother who is in her 60s, and Mandarin is her native language. Her son immigrated to New Zealand from China and he brought her to New Zealand on a family visa. She worked as an accountant in China and has high literacy in her own language, but does not speak any English. She does not qualify for NZ Superannuation, so the money she is paid by the service provider is her only income. Her son does not pay her for looking after his son. The service provider collects $118.20 per week in government subsidy for this child, a small portion of which is passed on to the educator.
Yu Yan looks after her grandson, who is two and a half. Both parents work full-time – as new immigrants, they feel they need to prove themselves and work hard for a better life. Their son was in an ECE centre, but they removed him when he was bitten on the face for the third time by another child. Their son is happier and more confident since he has been looked after by his grandmother for the last 6 months. A baby brother or sister is due soon, and he/she will be looked after by grandma too. They have peace of mind knowing that their child is safe while they are at work, which is not how they felt when he was at the ECE centre.
The service provider has a large number of Chinese grandmothers working as educators. It is a standalone service with two coordinators who are NZ European and who do not speak Mandarin. One of the coordinators recently bought the business. They employ a translator to support them to communicate with their educators.
The service has weekly playgroups, special outings every few months (e.g. to the zoo), and they celebrate Chinese cultural events, such as New Year, collectively. This involves driving many of the educators, who do not know how to drive. The educators and their families are thankful for the funding from the government and the community that the service provider creates.
What the changes could mean
The service provider continues with its current business model of Chinese grandmothers while there is no requirement for minimum qualifications. The service provider looks to recruit qualified educators and to diversify into serving English-speaking communities, so that it can remain open when regulatory changes come into force.
Yu Yan continues in the current arrangement until regulatory changes are made. Once these are made, she can no longer continue as a home-based educator. She continues to look after her grandchildren but is not paid to do this.