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On Monday 21 November at 4.30pm, MPs will debate e-petition 132140 on free childcare for working parents. The debate will be led by Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee.

Get involved: The Petitions Committee invite you to inform the debate by joining the conversation on the House of Commons Facebook page from Friday 11 to Tuesday 15 November:

Share your thoughts and experiences on the following questions:

• How easy have you found it to find suitable childcare?

• What are your thoughts on the cost of childcare? Is the Government giving parents the right support with childcare costs?

• Are there problems with the availability of qualified childcare staff?

On Tuesday 15 November from 4 to 5pm, Helen Jones MP will be joining the discussion live and responding to your comments.

Join the conversation on the House of Commons Facebook page.

This is what I wrote …

I WRITE AS AN EARLY YEARS PROVIDER. My original nursery was 31 years old at the beginning of November and we aspire to the highest standards. Research shows not only that brain development is rapid during the early years, that progress made impacts on later exam results (providing better life choices) but also that it HAS TO BE HIGH QUALITY to make a difference. So, how can that be provided without the appropriate funds (from the government) and lack of qualified staff to employ? For over two years we continue to seek a full complement of staff so our devoted team is not needing to work extra hours to ensure children are provided for appropriately and safely. It is not only a highly responsible career but one that is not valued as it should be by society and this is backed up by the miserable salary I have to pay to ensure the business can just bubble along just to break even across the financial year. There is a huge exodus of children going to school in September but bills still have to be paid and our local authority pays the ‘funding’ AFTER I have provided the service to parents. Therefore, this lack of cash presents me with overdraft costs that we struggle to keep within 35k.

The FREE (but grossly underfunded) ENTITLEMENT for parents of three, four and some two-year-olds, is in practice, subsidised by the extra hours booked during the week and other children who do not yet receive the FREE entitlement offer. The government has not been listening and needs to understand we are not ABLE to deliver this FREE (and it is misleading) for it is UNDERFUNDED and pushes prices up for others. I will not be able to provide the proposed 30 hours of ‘FREE (likely to be underfunded again) ENTITLEMENT and as other good nurseries are going to be in the same position then this will impact on what provision is available both in quality and quality. My council tax is going up by 50% for two nurseries to over 18k per year. Our team falls into two categories – those doing apprenticeships (in our own accredited training centre and we can’t GET funding so our own trained assessors can support staff) or over 25’s who have all (in principle quite rightly) have had wages increased to NLW. Also, I pay for staff sick pay, maternity/paternity pay and mandatory pension payments. There hasn’t been an increase in government funding and any past increases by our local authority has not been in line with the extra costs imposed upon us. By EFFECTIVE resourcing the early years, which is proven to impact on adult well-being and employability, then less finance would be required to TRY to ‘fix’ society (depression, suicide, unemployment, addiction, criminal behaviour etc ….). Parents, indeed society would appreciate what we do. The sector, in turn, can support and work with parents properly (as required by the Early Years Foundation Stage National Curriculum) in how to help their child with learning and development. A FOUR YEAR OLD’S BRAIN IS 90% GROWN BEFORE THEY GO TO FORMAL SCHOOL. Providing high standards of early care and education alongside parents ensures the brain is wired well and appropriately for a prosperous and stable future.

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