Free childcare is ‘economic suicide’

family life

Participating in the extended free childcare scheme later this year would be “economic suicide” a nursery owner has claimed.

From September parents of preschool children will become entitled to 30 hours of government-funded childcare per week, twice the current entitlement. But many nurseries and daycare providers have complained that the hourly funding rates on offer from the Department for Education will be too low to meet their costs.

Helen Gration is owner of three nurseries in York, one of the cities to have piloted extended childcare hours. Speaking to Children & Young People Now, she insisted that the £4 per hour funding they will receive from the government would not even pay for “the basics of high-quality childcare” and they would have to find the missing money from elsewhere.

“We understand that there is no more government money available to pay realistic, necessary rates. But it is not acceptable that we are being forced to cover the shortfall and offer impossible cheap hours for something so important to a child’s development and education, just to put a vote-winner in place.”

She called on the government to allow nurseries to charge for the extra hours.

“The 30 hours cannot be free otherwise our settings (nurseries) are not sustainable.”

Otherwise, she continued, nurseries would have no option but to increase their rates for chargeable hours.

“It is economic suicide if we are not able to set a representative hourly rate across all our hours, funded and non-funded. If we continue to be handcuffed as the model agreement allows, the only other source for income is the nought- to two-year olds.”

Photo of York city walls by Lisa Jarvis via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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