National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) today welcomed how the Government is looking to extend free nursery places for two year olds as part of a £7bn ‘fairness fund’ for disadvantaged children. However, NDNA highlighted it was crucial to resolve issues with funding for existing free sessions to ensure the sector could provide a high-quality entitlement for two year olds.
Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) comments: “NDNA welcomes how government is recognising the value of early years, and seeing how high-quality provision can support children from less advantaged backgrounds. Evidence demonstrates that working with families in their child’s earliest years delivers long-term outcomes that continue throughout a child’s schooling and into adulthood. We are keen to know more about what proportion of this money will be available for free places for two year olds, and how many children may benefit. More widely, NDNA is also urging government to recognise how it is vital to continue to provide investment in early years, including in the workforce, to support these children in receiving a continuously improving service.”
Purnima adds: “However, whilst nurseries will welcome the benefits of more free places for needy children, many will be worried about the impact this will have on their viability. Currently, nurseries face huge issues with funding levels for the free places for three and four year olds and this is impacting on the sustainability of the sector. The word ‘free’ is a misconception as a significant proportion of nurseries are having to subsidise these places so that parents receive them for free, which impacts on their ability to invest in areas and to minimise any fee increases for parents. In addition, although there have been successful pilots of free care for two year olds, it is important to recognise that these have had the benefit of additional funding, which has meant nurseries have been able to provide them. NDNA does welcome more support for all children, and we are pleased that this package is designed to support them throughout their entire childhood. However, nurseries are at a critical point with the existing free places and we firmly believe that the funding issues in the system must be resolved before we can look to extend free places. NDNA will be reviewing the full details of the scheme as they emerge, and sharing with government why addressing current issues is an absolute must.”
To read more about NDNA’s campaign for fairer funding for the free early years entitlement visit http://www.ndna.org.uk/events-campaigns/freeearl-years-entitlement
You can also add your voice, by signing the Early Years Childcare campaign ‘Free Childcare’ petition.