Childcare blocks

I find it insane the way red-tape often stops something worthwhile happening, that is something that is going to impact the community positively.  And ultimately could help business and economics.  Politicians have been agreeing to increase staff to child ratios for younger children in the hope of reducing the cost of childcare and making staff more qualified.  Supposedly doing this will bring down childcare costs and therefore more people will be able to work.

Not too convinced about the whole ratio thing  myself, and thankfully neither is the nursery that N’s at, but near us there’re other blocks on providing improved childcare.

As I’ve said before, N’s at a day nursery (extremely extortionately priced, but worth it for the forest school/outdoor space, hours and proximity to home)..  Also, there’re only 3 or 4 day nurseries in our local town which do the hours I need as well as providing food and everything else included in the cost.  So immediately you’re limited when you’re looking at childcare unless you’re happy to be spending your evenings preparing 3 meals a day for a packed lunch.

But come September when the additional family childcare will stop, N will be starting a couple of days at the local village nursery.  All very exciting as that’s where some of his cousins went, and chances are he’ll meet and make friends with a lot of the children he’ll be starting school.  But, this is where it gets complicated.

Nursery school (or pre-schools, whatever you want to call them) are usually run in line with schools…so term time only, and 9-3.  Our nursery currently only does 3 ‘full’ days, the others on offer are mornings only.  All very well if the parents work part-time or don’t work.  But most parents whose child is in full time childcare and wants them to get used to being either ‘aligned’ to the local school more, or in the local nursery school ready to feed up into school can’t work with those hours.  Obviously day nurseries have ‘pre-school’ rooms, but our current nursery isn’t even in our county as it’s just over the border so it’s totally different children he’s making friends with to who he’ll go to school with.

Because of the hours, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to a) get N there at that time in the mornings and b) how I’m going to pick him up.  I might have a plan, but it’s relying on a lot of other people agreeing to someone else’s routine, which isn’t really fair.  The other alternative would be to work longer hours on the days he’s not there in order to make up some time so I can leave early.  So a lot of things to work out before September.

However, our local village nursery has big (ongoing) plans.  They sound great, and long term would definitely help me (and presumably others) with timings if it can be approved.

They currently use the village hall.  It’s a lovely village hall, but it’s not their building.  There’s also no outdoor space attached.  The children have to be taken outside and across the main village road to play on the village green at certain times of the day, rather than being able to benefit from free-flow play which N loves so much at his current day nursery.  They’re also limited on the hours they can run the nursery because obviously the village hall gets used for other functions and by other groups.

But they’ve got plans to move to a different site just on the village boundaries.  It would mean having their own building to do with what they will; it’ll mean safer drop offs and pick ups as there would be a car park, rather than parking on the road through the village, blocking the road at peak times with school traffic also driving through at the same times.  But even more importantly for the children, there would be outdoor play/grass areas next to the building for the children to have free-flow play throughout the day.  Surely this is a big win for officials in keeping children healthy and active from an early age, as well as encouraging child-led play and development of personal decision making.

You’d think the powers that be would approve this kind of move as soon as possible – especially as there’d be limited impact on any other parties.  Ok, so maybe a few parents wouldn’t walk to drop the children off where now they do, as it would be just out of the village limits.  The village hall might get used a little less.   But no, blocks are being put in place for getting it approved.  The nursery are being told they have to gain more support than they previously had.

Bear in mind, this is a tiny village.  The primary school has about 100 pupils maximum, so we’re not talking a lot of people to be able to ask for support.  (I liken it to the BT Infinity ads saying ‘sign your area up and show interest to get high speed broadband’…I try to sign up and get told your locality is way too small, you may as well not bother because you’ll not hit anywhere near the minimum required’ despite the fact rural areas probably need it the most.  Maybe thinking about it, that’s not a great example, but it’s all about people blocking what should be a no-brainer).

So they’re having to petition the villagers, get people to write letters and emails and build up more support than they’ve already got.

I really hope things work out for them (ok, so I’m being a bit selfish here, but it’s not just N and I who would benefit), and that the authorities take a fair look at the work the nursery have already prepared for this rather than holding things back further.

What stumbling blocks have you come across before when it comes to childcare improvements?

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