Nurseries against petition calling for 15 hours free childcare for babies from 9 months old
Updated: May 17, 2019
Currently, the government offers at least 15 hours of 'free' childcare for 38 weeks of the year for all three and four-year-olds in England. It also offers 'free' childcare for all disadvantaged two-year-olds.
The petition created on the Parliament website by parent Harley Cuthbert calls for ‘free childcare’ for working parents from when a child turns nine months rather than the age of two. With more than 133,000 signatures, this petition will now be debated in Parliament.
On the petition, Harley Cuthbert says: “After 9 months of maternity leave, most working mums do not receive any maternity pay and need to go back to work. I think all working parents should be entitled to 15 hours free childcare from the time a child is 9 months. It makes more sense to provide this funding from 9 months instead of 2 years.
“Many working families struggle week to week due to the cost of childcare. You are required to go back to work after a year of maternity pay however many go back after 9 months due to funds. Once you go back the majority of your wage goes to childcare and in some cases you are better off not working. This should not be the case.”seven.
'More and more are having to close their doors because the numbers simply do not add up.'
However, childcare providers on Facebook warn that the proposal to give ‘free’ places to babies could lead to the closures of many nurseries. One childcare provider said: “Funding is already ridiculously low.” Many nurseries say they are already struggling financially to offer the funded 30 hours for three and four-year-olds, as they claim the amount they get from the government per child is not enough.
Jonathan Broadbery, head of policy and external relations at National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “While it is understandable that some parents would want to access funded childcare from the point their child is nine months old, the government should not be looking to expand the current offer until it gets the funding right.
“We know that the period following maternity leave can be very tough for working parents. But the fact that places for two, three- and four-year-olds are underfunded is impacting on the availability of places and also the costs for looking after younger children."
He added: "Our latest research shows that the hourly rate that the government pays providers does not cover the costs of delivering high-quality early years education for 89 per cent of nurseries. More and more are having to close their doors because the numbers simply do not add up. This causes distress and upheaval for children and families as well as heartache for those who run and work in these settings.
“The simple fact is that the current policy is not free. It’s not free for parents when places aren’t available, or they face additional charges and it’s not free for providers who are left picking up the cost of underfunding.”