One mum sparked a debate on online forum, Mumsnet, questioning if her parents should be asking for money to look after their grandchildren.
Before going back to work after maternity leave, the unnamed mum asked her parents if they could help out with looking after her daughter, to which they agreed, but they asked for money towards the costs of childcare.
The post said: “Will be going back to work soon three days a week after mat leave. Parents have said they will be happy to [look after their grandchild], but for £50 a week. Am I being unreasonable to think this isn’t the norm?”
The post has divided people with some agreeing with the grandparents: “£50 is a bargain! How generous of them to save you so much money.”
And another added: “I think that’s reasonable, still saving a fair bit of money, and it’s probably to cover costs.”
Some parents disagreed with the grandparents asking for money, saying: “I don’t pay mine. The food, soft play, days out etc. all adds up though. Is it possibly just a case of wanting to cover some costs?”
With the fourth one adding: “Mine don’t charge anything. Mum used to have my son two full days, and now they collect him from school for 4 days.”
Grandparents could earn up to £19,000 a year if they charged for childcare – according to childcare.co.uk. If they got paid a national average of £9 per hour, five days a week, they could earn £18,720 a year.
The founder of Childcare, Richard Conway, said to heart.co.uk: “Grandparents are often heavily relied upon when it comes to babysitting and these figures show just how valuable their time is.
“On average, babysitters get paid £9 per hour, and when you consider that some grandparents have become the primary carer for their grandchildren while parents are at work, it adds up to a very substantial amount of money.”
Mr Conway added that “grandparents deserve a huge amount of recognition for taking care of their grandchildren”, but that sometimes parents should look for another option, like nannies.”
Research conducted by the University of Leeds found that children born only three weeks premature during the summer, may encounter ‘significant setbacks’ in education especially if they fall into the earlier school year.
The data, from Born in Bradford birth cohort study, was collected from 10,000 children, and shows that children born prematurely are twice as likely not to achieve a ‘good’ level of development at the end of reception, compared to children born at full term.
Children born in the summer months are most at risk due to starting school a year early. Those children are three times less likely to reach a ‘good level of development’.
The research also found that keeping the children behind for one year before they start school may not compensate for their early birth.
The study was the result of conversations with schools taking part in the Bradford Opportunity Area Programme, a Department for Education initiative to find out if extra support is needed for those children.
Children who are extremely premature are always given support with follow up medical assistance as well as support from their schools, which are informed about the situation, whereas children born three to eight weeks prematurely don’t get that support.
The research also highlights the disadvantages faced by those born between three to eight weeks early, as well as showing they face them at an earlier age than previously thought.
A neonatal doctor from the Born in Bradford study and the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Katherine Pettinger, who co-authored the study, said to Nursery World: “While it seems like an obvious solution, delayed entry for premature children is not likely to compensate for being born early, as we found that within a given school year, the risks to development faced by children born prematurely, did not vary depending on when within that school year they were born.
“To try to support this at-risk group better, we instead suggest that schools should be informed which of their pupils were born prematurely, so they can be given extra support, particularly early on in their schooling.”
There are a number of recommendations to help those children including;
Giving the parents of the children individual advice suitable to their needs
Providing teachers with the best learning resources to support premature children
Sharing data between health and education services
The study is titled “Starting School: Educational Development as a Function of Age of Entry and Prematurity”, and it is published in the journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said that the difference in the cost of delivering childcare and the funding paid via local authorities, has risen to an average of £2,166 per year per child, nearly two years after the introduction of 30 funded hours.
Lancashire is among the areas of the country affected the most, with more and more nurseries closing down.
A few days ago, the Post revealed that nurseries funded via the local authority in Lancashire are struggling financially, and if the Government makes a decision not to continue with special grants that nurseries receive, more settings will face financial collapse.
In addition to threatening the future of nurseries, the NDNA said the price of government under-funding is also passed onto parents through higher fees for younger kids or fees for extras.
Nurseries also noticed that since the start of the policy, they are losing at least one staffing day a week to maintain all their administrative duties, as well as dealing with the new system and supporting parents with registration.
A spokesman for Just Childcare, which runs Fern Bank Nursery in Fulwood, Bluebells Nursery in Fulwood, Stonehouse Nursery in Leyland and The Hollies Nursery in Chorley, said to Lancashire Post: “The 30 hours free childcare scheme has provided a welcome and positive benefit to working parents, but it does represent an ongoing challenge for the childcare industry as a whole.
“Care funding rates vary across the country and have largely stood still for the past few years whilst the industry has seen increases in staffing costs, business rates and other running costs.”
Purnima Tanuku, the NDNA chief executive, said: “It’s about time government woke up to the full cost of delivering their 30 hours’ free’ childcare policy.
“Nurseries are forced to alter the way they deliver funded hours, by restricting the amount of places they offer, holding back from hiring highly-qualified staff or charging parents for extras to make up the funding shortfall. Neither parents nor nurseries want this to happen.
“Doubling the amount of funded childcare from 15 hours to 30 has more than doubled nurseries’ average annual shortfall, which, coupled with late payments from local authorities, is seriously undermining their cash flows.
“Adding to these difficulties, nurseries are spending huge amounts of time supporting parents to understand the new system and reconciling payments. This is the time which nursery staff should be spending with the children.
“This is a terrible state of affairs in a sector which should be thriving as more children than ever before take up their funded places.”
The chairwoman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, Anntoinette Bramble, added: “Recent changes to early years provision, including the 30 hours free childcare scheme for working families, is a positive step. However, we have repeatedly raised concerns that the funding rates are insufficient, and this is risking both the sustainability of many providers and the quality of provision.
“We have particular concerns around the provision for disadvantaged children and those with special educational needs and disabilities if funding rates continue to fall below the cost of delivering services.
“We also have concerns that supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools (which are concentrated in areas of high deprivation and have higher running costs than other nursery provision) ends in 2020, and the Government has yet to announce what will happen beyond that. Without a sustainable funding solution, many are likely to close.
“It is vital that early years providers are properly funded to allow them to deliver the high-quality childcare that gives children the best start in life.”
Lancashire currently has 25,510 children receiving early years provision; 2,522 of the pupils are in 24 maintained nurseries.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “We know some parents struggle with the cost of childcare, which is why we are spending around £3.5bn on our early education offers this year alone.
“Parents are able to use their free entitlement with a range of provider types, some offering childcare all year round.
“Working parents with children up to the age of 16 can also claim back up to 85 percent of eligible childcare costs through Universal Credit.
“Over the summer holidays we are also supporting around 50,000 disadvantaged children and their parents with a programme of free activities backed by £9.1m, and just this weekend we announced an extra £2.5m next year to help schools open up their facilities at weekends and over the holidays as part of the School Sport Action Plan.”
Head of childcare at Busy Bees, Deena Billings, said: “There are numerous benefits from a child attending nursery, both socially and academically.
“According to studies, children attending the nursery at age two, develop stronger language skills by age three than those who don’t.
“By attending nursery, children become accustomed to daily routines in a more academic setting which helps them naturally progress to school, and by joining a nursery and being among peers, helps children develop their social skills and learn how to have positive interactions with each other. This also helps build their independence in time for school.
“Through the experiences provided at nursery, children are supported in developing the necessary skills for moving onto school. Research has shown that attending pre-school education positively impacts a child’s academic skills right up until they leave the education system.”
“Attending a nursery can play a key part in the physical, personal, emotional and social development of a child.
“Ten to 15 years ago, the childcare industry was seen very much as a babysitting service, but now nurseries are recognised for taking a major role in early years education – broadening minds, interest and curiosity; providing a thirst for learning and helping ensure children are ready for the next step in their learning.
“Everything we do at our nursery is centred on the children in our care. Children love children, so there’s no better place to explore and develop a child’s social interactions than a nursery.”
“Mixing with a wide range of children is hugely beneficial, developing emotional skills, improving learning and building confidence,” added a spokesman for Fern Bank nursery in Fulwood.
The new survey has also observed that parents have to spend £138 a week on average on childcare during the summer holidays.
According to Coram Family and Childcare, only one in three nurseries have sufficient childcare spaces for full-time working parents, and the cost has gone up by three percent since last summer.
The National Day Nursery Associations’ Head of Policy and External Relations, Jonathan Broadbery, said: “Trying to find affordable, accessible childcare during the school holidays is still a huge concern for families.
“In England, Government-funded places for under-fives are technically only for term-time, which can make those financial headaches for working parents worse.
“NDNA’s recent early years workforce survey showed that these childcare providers are struggling to recruit and retain staff to run their normal business, let alone cope with the extra demand that extended holidays bring.
“It’s a serious concern that only a third of councils in England believe they have enough holiday childcare in their area.
“We are seeing funding rates which don’t meet the costs of providing childcare, and if this continues, nurseries and other providers won’t be sustainable, and the picture will get a lot worse.”
Cygnets Day Nursery celebrated its fifteen-year anniversary on Friday 19 July with a beach-themed event. Local MP Damian Hinds agreed to visit during the event and asked many questions about the daycare provided.
Bonny Clark, Manager of Cygnets, said “It was fantastic to see the children have so much fun with all our beach activities. It is amazing to think we have been in Bordon 15 years and we look forward to the next 15! A big thank you to all the parents who continue to support us and to our staff who did a huge amount to create an immersive beach experience for the children and who work hard daily to provide a high standard of education.”
Staff and children were dressed in a variety of colourful outfits and were busy all day enjoying sand pits, inflatable pools, beach balls and painting their faces. The children particularly enjoyed the two guest storytellers who made the children laugh with their engaging and interactive stories. Possibly the most popular attractions were the opportunity to ride on two ponies and eating fish and chips and ice cream.
Cygnets Day Nursery is a purpose built full daycare nursery, that opened in January 2004. It is designed to the highest standards for children aged 3 months to 5 years on a full or part time basis. For more information please go to www.cygnetsdaynurseries.co.uk
The Department of Education has launched a competition to find the best quality early years learning apps to help disadvantaged children with their language and literacy skills.
Disadvantaged families in 12 areas across the country will receive free access to a choice of two of the best apps focused on early language, literacy and communication. The apps have been designed to help parents “think about how to use screen time constructively and provide meaningful learning activities for their young children in the years before they start reception (the first year of formal schooling).”
Tech companies from all over the country have been encouraged to bring forward any apps which meet the educational criteria, including elements of play, interaction and ranging-difficulty levels.
Parents will then have a choice of the apps they want to use, picking from hundreds already available on the market.
Kemi Badenoch, the new Children and Families Minister, said that the Government wants to “work together with families to give all children the best possible start, and support parents to begin the learning process at home”.
“Digital technology means there is a wealth of fun activities at parents’ fingertips, but the content of these is important too. That’s why we want to help parents make confident, informed choices about the resources they use, so they can help inspire a love of learning in their children,” she added.
Disadvantaged children are usually around four months behind in their development at the age of 5, growing to 6 months by the age of 11.
The competition follows the Hungry Little Minds campaign launched in July, which gives parents access to video tips, advice and games to help tackle the learning barrier.
It also follows the partnership with the National Literacy Trust, which brings together businesses and organisations to support parents with playing the most significant role in a child’s early education.