I’m sure you will have seen or heard one of the many discussions and debates on TV and radio last week about child care costs and the plans for the Liberal Democrats to extend the number of hours of free funding available to parents. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31523440
As the election campaign heads into the final stages two key areas all parties are targeting are working parents and childcare costs.
The Old School House welcomes this commitment to provide more free childcare to families; however there is a chronic underfunding issue and many providers are seriously concerned about sustainability. In my role as NDNA trustee I am involved in lobbying government to raise the bar through its Childcare Challenge to address the affordability, quality and choice of childcare and really make a difference for the sector, children and families.
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) released an excellent response yesterday, which I include below and would like to share with you.
NDNA calls for any increase in free nursery hours to be thoroughly costed in response to Nick Clegg’s childcare speech
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is calling for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s proposed extension to free childcare to be fairly funded so that nurseries can deliver it sustainably.
Nick Clegg pledged today to extend this to all children of working parents aged between nine months and two years and universally for all two year olds. He also said Liberal Democrats aimed to increase free provision to 20 hours in the longer term.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “We welcome this commitment to provide more free childcare to families but there is a chronic underfunding issue with this provision so any extension must be thoroughly costed so that it can be delivered without making provision unsustainable.
“The money that childcare providers currently receive to deliver free hours falls short by an average of £800 per child per year for each funded three to four-year-old place and £700 for each two-year-old place.
“This is the biggest single reason that nursery fees are rising for some paying parents who end up subsidising the free places.”
NDNA’s recent Annual Nursery Survey called for a long-term review of the complex early education and childcare funding system. At present, funding for free places varies between local authority areas but averages at £3.80 per child per hour.
Ms Tanuku said: “Nurseries are being forced to increase their fees to parents who pay for additional hours, or for younger children not eligible for funded places, to make up the funding shortfall.
“For most nurseries, the average sum received of £3.80 per hour does not cover the cost of high-quality childcare, let alone make a surplus.”
Ms Tanuku also welcomed Mr Clegg’s commitment to increase the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 per child and to work towards having a member of staff with Qualified Teacher Status in every childcare setting by 2020.
She said: “NDNA fully supports moves to increase the skills and qualifications of people who work in early years settings but for this to be achievable there needs to be more government investment into training and development for early years workforces, particularly in the nursery sector.”
NDNA is calling on the next government to raise the bar through its Childcare Challenge to address the affordability, quality and choice of childcare and really make a difference for the sector, children and families. Among the solutions that NDNA is recommending are to:
– Protect early education funding so it can only be spent on under-fives
- Work with the early years sector to ensure any commitments to expand free hours are thoroughly costed so they can be delivered without making provision unsustainable and reducing choice for parents
- Commit to a long-term review of the overly complex early education and childcare funding system.
Read NDNA’s Annual Nursery Surveys for England, Scotland and Wales here: http://www.ndna.org.uk/news/ndna-surveys/NDNA+Annual+Nursery+Survey+2015