Over 90% of the 3000 children attending Tops Day Nurseries attend part time. Records show that grandparents and extended family often look after their children for the remaining days/hours needed while parents work, or parents work at the same time as childcare. This is largely because parents do not have the money to pay for all their childcare.
If childcare was more affordable, grandparents, as well as parents, could return to work or increase their working hours.
Sam Douce, a parent of a child attending Tops Day Nurseries explained: “I work between 10-12 hours a week and my wages for each week are taken entirely and then some to the cost of childcare for 2 1/2 days. I therefore work for pleasure and sanity really, as well as to keep my skills up to date so I have transferrable skills if I apply for another job. I cannot work more than what I do due to these costs. ”
Sam is also a registered carer for her daughter who is type 1 Diabetic. This puts further restrictions on her ability to work because of the financial constraints of carers allowance.
The government has recently announced its plan to encourage over 50s back to work. One option for Grandparents, which coincides with the government idea, is that they could be trained in early years education and work in early years settings if they have enjoyed working with young children.
Roberta Johnstone, another parent explained: “My daughter has grown into a confident, caring and social little person and she makes me so proud every day. Every working family deserves the option of childcare, and unfortunately, many people of working age have to make the choice between childcare or a lower household income.”
Cheryl Hadland, Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries commented: “To my understanding the Treasury cannot take factors like extra income into consideration as the impact is not a specific figure, they cannot work out the extra tax income that would come in against the cost of investing in childcare. If I understood correctly, then this makes no sense to me as an entrepreneur. You have to take risks to grow. We believe more children will be able to attend early years education and childcare if the fees are dropped, and in turn parents and grandparents will be able to work or work more. There is plenty of evidence that good quality childcare prepares children for school and for life where they earn more, are happier, and achieve more.”
Good quality nurseries are currently struggling through lack of staff and investment and more will close from April with the impact of increasing costs and National Minimum Wage not being matched by increases to government funded spaces. This directly conflicts with the new government strategy.