Concern over expansion
Doubling free childcare entitlement could be a bonus for parents but has left some private operators feeling anxious.
Parents and carers could save £4500 per child per year with the doubling of childcare entitlement.
However, some private nurseries are said to be feeling “vulnerable”by the shift.
The expansion is expected to support more parent and carers to work, train or study, with a greater choice provider and a better fit for working patterns while ensuring a “high quality experience”for the child.
However, council education officials said all partner providers had expressed concerns about the impact the introduction of 1140 hours may have on their business.
Stirling Council currently offers three types of childcare provision - 40 per cent are nursery classes (attached to primary schools), 27 per cent are standalone nurseries and 33 per cent are private partner providers - with a total of 45 settings across the authority area.
Private partners are independent businesses, the majority operating for profit, and offer funded places to three and four year olds on a commissioned basis in partnership with the council.
The number of funded places in each is currently capped, however under the Scottish Government’s proposed new funding model for 2020 the capping would not apply.
Officials told the education committee that partner providers felt“vulnerable”because they didn’t yet know what the impact was going to be in terms of the shift in parents that currently pay into childcare.
Part of the Scottish Government’s‘Blueprint for 2020’, however, is that there would be an increase in payments made to private partners although just how much is not yet quantified.
A council official told the committee, however:“Private operators are feeling vulnerable but we want to keep them and we are working with them on that.”
Among the council’s plans are both capital and revenue investment for both local authority and partner provision.
This is said to include significant expansion of the workforce, property upgrades and new build and extensions, supporting existing provider partnerships and creating new provider partnerships with childminders.