National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) today responded to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). Whilst NDNA welcomes the commitment to children in their earliest years, the organisation highlights that the reduction in the percentage of costs working parents can claim back for childcare will have implications for the affordability of childcare.
NDNA said the move to reduce the amount of childcare costs covered and the increase in working hours would affect parents’ ability to work, particularly those on the lowest incomes.
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.”
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has announced that initial research with its nursery members has revealed that the majority do not wish to see large-scale change with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). However, one of the key areas that nurseries have said needs addressing is the level of red-tape under the framework.
NDNA has conducted research with a focussed group of nurseries in England who represented a total of over 400 settings to gather initial feedback following the announcement of the review. This will be supported by national consultation events on 29 September in Leeds and 30 September in London so that members can attend to debate the review and feed into NDNA’s response on behalf of the sector. However, this initial research exercise has revealed a high level of support for the EYFS, with 83% saying that they felt that the EYFS supported children to get the best start. NDNA has already shared some of these initial findings with those leading the review prior to submitting a full response.
How much is free childcare costing you?
All three- and four-year-olds in England will be entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week from 1 September. Ross Watson, CYPNow, asks what providing an extra 2.5 hours of free childcare will mean for parents and providers.
Two-and-a-half hours of free childcare a day is not enough time to get anything done, according to Belle Kaur, whose three-year-old son Jason currently attends the nursery at Fox Hollies Children’s Centre in Acocks Green, Birmingham, each morning. “It is hell doing the day-to-day essentials like shopping. He has tantrums in the car and in the shopping centres,” she says.
Like every other three and four-year-old in England, Jason is currently eligible for 12.5 hours of childcare a week under the government’s free entitlement scheme. Kaur uses her free hours over five days, paying extra for Jason to stay longer on Wednesdays and Fridays.
But from 1 September the Kaurs will be eligible for an extra 2.5 hours of childcare a week under government plans to extend the free entitlement to 15 hours a week for all three and four-year-olds. The new rules are also more flexible, allowing parents to use all their hours over a minimum of three days if they wish. Local authorities are also encouraged to work around the needs of individual families, even allowing parents to use their free childcare allowance for up to 10 hours a day.
From September 2010 the current free entitlement will increase from 12.5 to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, and parents will be able to use it more flexibly than at present – over at least three days a week. Since September 2009, all local authorities (LAs) have been required to make the offer available to 25 per cent of their most disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds.
The extension to the free entitlement from two-and-a-half hours to three hours, delivered flexibly, is a real issue for some private providers, as the funding from the local authorities will not cover the true costs of running a business.
Purnima Taunuku, chief executive, National Day Nurseries Association was quoted as saying, ‘Many settings are struggling to find a solution to this very difficult issue.’