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Local services :: Nursery
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The recent proposals from Tory childcare minister Liz Truss to "cut red tape" and "map out the government's childcare aspirations" may sound good, but in reality will translate to a poorer service, job losses and an inevitable increase in child safety issues.
The government believes the solution to high childcare costs is to increase the child to carer ratio, meaning one carer could look after a larger group of children alone - one worker could be responsible for six toddlers.
They claim that by decreasing staffing costs and increasing subsidies, private nurseries could plough their increased revenue into lowering childcare fees.
However it's more likely that the owners of the nurseries will take this opportunity to increase their own profits.
It's no secret that private nursery owners often cry poverty and claim that the subsidy they receive only just covers their costs - in reality meaning a profit but not as large as they would like.
Also, the attacks on Sure Start services are continuing, resulting in cuts and closures. So more and more parents are going to have to resort to private nurseries, potentially allowing nursery bosses to increase fees.
If you're low paid or unemployed and are entitled to free childcare provision, then you'll have no choice but to look for the cheapest nursery, putting your child's welfare behind what you're able to afford.
The government says that increasing the education of childcare employees, (introducing a requirement for them to have a GCSE in English and Maths), will offset the increased workload and decreased staffing levels.
As a parent who's two year old will be starting nursery in May, I can't deny having better educated staff would be brilliant for her, especially in her formative years.
But the proposed changes to regulations will mean staff may be better educated but will have little to no time to pass that on.
As a parent, the biggest thing I worry about is my child's safety. If there are fewer staff looking after a larger group of children, that spells a recipe for disaster.
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Article dated 6 February 2013
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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