Charlotte Lucas, Founder and Co-owner of Welton Free Rangers talks to us about the governments new plans for childcare. Its an interesting read and especially important for parents looking for childcare.
“From September 2017 the Government’s promise of 30 hrs “Free” childcare is due to start. This latest initiative alongside the release of a new, poorly thought out funding formula has meant that the Early Years Sector across the country is up arms.
They are concerned that the Government’s demands will drive down the quality of childcare. This will discourage highly qualified staff from entering the profession and make their businesses unsustainable. Everyone stands to lose if this scheme is rolled out in September and those set to suffer the most will be children.
In the West local nurseries and early years settings are working hard to collaborate to raise awareness of these crucial issues, through a group called Best For The West.
One member of Best for The West, nursery owner Charlotte Lucas from Free Rangers Forest School Nursery said:
“The free childcare hours are far from free. There is a significant shortfall in our hourly going rate and what the government pays us, as a business we can’t swallow it for the next four years. Then we must factor in business rates increases, pension pay ins and the increase of minimum wages.
Settings will have to cut costs and inevitably it would mean decreasing the quality of childcare and education or driving up costs for those not entitled to funding. Either way we need families to get involved and demand a sensible level of funding from the government or for the government to reverse their promise of free childcare and describe it as subsidised.”
Another member, Clare Crowther from Atelier Nursery in the centre of Bath commented,
“Families are coming to us asking to reserve a 30 hrs place for their child or children. Bath & North East Somerset are still unable to tell us our definite funding figure or the terms and conditions under which we must deliver the initiative. There is no way we can plan, forecast or even inform families of the way we’ll progress until we have this vital information.”
Rosemary Collard who owns a chain of nurseries “Snapdragons” and also supports and drives Best for the West commented
“We are being asked to deliver high quality care and education that is insufficiently funded and poorly thought out. Public money was invested in paying for graduates to train as EYTs because the government believed that graduate led settings would lead to the best possible outcomes for children, but at £4.00 an hour there is less and less money to pay a highly qualified workforce. We are happy to support our graduates but we need the ability to charge a rate that enables this. We can make the 30 hours a real possibility but not with the rates on offer.”
To conclude it appears that Early Years Settings across the Southwest desperately want to get on with what they do best, which is providing high quality Early Years Education. But they need the support of families when it comes to understanding the unrealistic demands being made on their businesses and how that might affect the level of education their children access or the additional charges they most likely will incur”