NEWS – 11th May 2016
One in five children is missing out on their free nursery place, because of inflexible hours and a system that just isn’t set up for working parents. But still the Government claims to have delivered 600 hours of free childcare for every three and four year old.
With the new term of parliament it’s a great time to contact your local candidates asking them how they are going to make sure every child gets the childcare they’re entitled to.
You can find your candidates’ contact details at the Who Can I Vote For? website.
Not sure what to say? Download our New MSP letter.
Want to do more? Write to your local paper: use our template letter to get you started. Or attend a hustings: lots of local areas have them, and they’re a great chance to go along and quiz your candidates. Check our Fair Funding Manifesto for five questions to put to politicians about childcare.
Please forward any responses from your candidates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay in touch with us throughout the election campaign: like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @FairFunding4OK.
NEWS – 01 March 2016
Great news! A new team of parents have taken over and will continue to build the campaign.
NEWS – 18 February 2016
We have launched a 4-pledge manifesto to end our two-year campaign.
During this time we have met twice with the First Minister, twice with the Cabinet Secretary for Education, and with opposition politicians and councillors. Our campaign has been raised four times at First Minister’s Questions.
Every political party in Scotland knows something needs to be done. We have won that argument. Our challenge now to the politicians is that they work together in the first two years of the Parliament to develop a shared vision for the future of Scottish childcare and deliver it over ten years.
Fair Funding was a diverse mix of people with different backgrounds and political views. We kept united by focusing on facts and results. If we can do this for our children perhaps then our politicians can too.
News 19 November 2015
We need to address a comment made by a Scottish Government spokeswomen in the press today:
“A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the estimated figures assumed nothing would change between now and 2020 to deliver the increase in funded hours. The role of Scotland’s 5,500 childminders was also ignored, the government said.
The spokeswoman added: “They also assume that doubling the hours of free childcare available will mean that we will need to double the number of childcare places. This is not true.”
This is a misrepresentation: We do not assume that doubling the hours of free childcare will mean doubling the number of nursery places.
There are currently around 135,000 eligible 2, 3 and 4 year olds who are entitled to free hours. There is currently a total maximum capacity for 110,082 places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds in nurseries throughout Scotland.
Of all Scotland’s 32 local authorities, only 3 have enough nursery places to cover their eligible children. In the remaining authorities, there is a shortfall of 26,257 places compared to eligible children. That’s in ALL nurseries: council, private, community, independent, partner, non-partner, even playgroups.
These are not estimated figures. This is the actual capacity for all nursery places in Scotland taken from Care Inspectorate registration documents.
We don’t assume that nothing will change between now and 2020, but we do have very serious doubts that Scotland’s local authorities, who currently have a stock of 1556 nurseries, will be able to build and staff an absolute minimum of 650 entirely new nurseries within the next 5 years just to bridge that capacity hole for eligible children. No plans have been drawn, no consultations made, no ground has been broken to build these nurseries that are needed by 2020.
Even if they achieve this monumental infrastructure expansion, assume that every single playgroup and community nursery who only currently offers half day care is able to move to full day, and assume that every nursery in the country is filled to maximum capacity, even then only the eligible children will be catered for. The 73% of 2 year olds who are not considered ‘vulnerable’ but need a nursery place so their parents can go to work will not be able to access it. It simply won’t be there.
If anything, by highlighting a 26,000 place hole in capacity at the moment, we have been very conservative. In reality many many more nursery places will have to be created in order to keep Scotland’s childcare system going.
Childminders can contribute certainly if local authorities were willing to bring them into partnership. There are currently around 5,500 childminders in Scotland who care for children from the age of 0 to 15. A childminder can only care for three 2 to 5 year olds at any one time. Even in the wholly unfeasible scenario that every childminder in the country was only delivering the free hours to pre-school children, leaving thousands of families without the care they need for their children in all other age groups, and having to refuse care to siblings of eligible children, they could cover an absolute maximum of 16,500 places.
If the Government Spokeswoman would like to discuss this further we would be very happy to have the opportunity to clarify the situation to her.
Statement: Fair Funding For Our Kids, 18 November 2015
We have been left frustrated and angry after meeting with Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance on 17 November 2015 to ask for detail on the First Minister’s promise to double the free nursery entitlement to 30-hrs per week by 2020.
As we know, there are already issues with how the current 600 hrs/year entitlement is being delivered in Scotland. We estimate that as many as 1 in 5 children aged 3 and 4 are still missing out on their entitlement. So we asked how the increase in hours was going to be rolled out.
The Cabinet Secretary told us:
“The new promise will be delivered by 2020 because it has to be.”
She was unable to answer basic questions about how she plans for this to be done. In response to direct questions, the Cabinet Secretary could not say:
- How many extra childcare places will be needed to fulfill the promise.
- How many new nursery buildings will be needed to house the new places.
- How many extra training places and modern apprenticeships will be needed to ensure the right number of staff are available to work in the new nurseries.
- How much extra the new childcare promise will cost.
- How she will ensure extra money goes to creating the new places and is not diverted elsewhere by cash-strapped councils.
- How much money the Scottish Government will actually have available to spend on it.
- What the timetable for all this must be if there are going to be enough buildings, staff and places in existence to meet the First Minister’s 2020 deadline.
In addition, we asked several times if local councils have warned they cannot deliver the FM’s childcare promise by 2020. The Cabinet Secretary, Minister and civil servants all refused to answer.
In the absence of information from the Cabinet Secretary, we presented the results of our own research, gathered over eighteen months.
We added up all the nursery places that currently exist in Scotland as listed on the individual registration reports on the Care Inspectorate website. This includes places in council nurseries, partnership nurseries, non-partnership nurseries and playgroups. We have compared this figure with the projected child population.
We found that if every single available nursery place was used to meet the 2020 promise, there would be a massive shortfall of 26,000 places.
That means a minimum of 650 new nurseries and 3,250 new nursery staff.
Any expansion of infrastructure on this scale should be well in hand by now. It is not.