Con­cern over ex­pan­sion

Stirling Observer - - PRIMARY ONES -

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.

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