Education Lifestyle

Council nurseries ‘not delivering’ for working parents

THE vast majority of places at council-run nurseries are unsuitable for working parents, according to a new study.

A survey by the Fair Funding for Our Kids campaign found more than two thirds of children at state nurseries were offered a place for just three hours and 10 minutes a day.

Almost half of all nursery places in Scotland were for half days only, while less than three per cent of all nursery places were for full days all year round.

Children aged three to five are entitled to 600 hours a year of free childcare, but campaigners say half-day places are almost impossible for working parents to make use of.

A campaign spokesman said: “Early years care is so important, but working parents continue to miss out.

“Very few people have bosses who are prepared to let them work for less than three hours a day, and many don’t have grandparents who can fill gaps in childcare.

“We need much faster progress in eliminating half-day places except where parents specifically request them.”

The survey also found local authorities were underfunding partnership places in private nurseries by up to £461 per child a year.

The research found 21 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are offering an hourly rate below the national average cost of £4.03 an hour.

However, council umbrella body Cosla said the information was “historical” with a recent expansion of more suitable places.

A spokesman said: “The commitment to the expansion means all families will benefit from longer and more flexible approaches in every council area.”

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “Early learning and childcare flexibility and choice is increasing across the country.”

Meanwhile, a national consultation on Scottish Government plans to expand the free care entitlement revealed fears private nurseries could be forced to close.

Fewer than half of those who responded said the changes would increase choice for parents and carers.

The report said: “There was also a concern the … still-to-be determined funding rate may lead to some providers pulling out of the market.”

Source : HeraldScotland

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