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National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is a national charity which represents private day nurseries in Scotland, England and Wales. Whilst the focus of our work is to support the private day nurseries in Scotland navigate the changing political landscape we are also aware of the parents who use the services our member nurseries provide.
The Scottish Government’s funded childcare policy aims to support parents back to work. The Blueprint for 2020 sets out an aim to provide a model of provision which offers parents a greater choice of settings. This approach is described as being “fundamentally provider neutral”. But what does this actually mean?
Provider neutral childcare
The Scottish Government describes this as:
“prioritising the settings that are best placed to deliver quality outcomes for children… regardless of whether they are provided by the public, private or third sectors”.
This would suggest that parents should have the choice of where they would like their child to be cared for.
Currently parents can access 600 hours funded childcare but often there aren’t funded places available when their child turns 3 because of limited partnership places. This often means children having to be moved from one setting to another. Those early attachments are broken and this can leave a child feeling emotionally unsettled.
NDNA Scotland is working alongside other childcare organisations to challenge the Government to ensure that in moving forward to 2020, the expansion to 1140 hours, ‘provider neutral’ will truly mean what it says. Parents should have real choice when it comes to deciding where they would like their child’s childcare to be. Parents should be able to make decisions about their child’s care which are in the best interests of their family’s needs whether that be attachments made, location in relation to work or home or to be with siblings.
NDNA Scotland recognises the importance of this to children’s early attachments and family life. NDNA members often tell us heart wrenching stories of the upset of parents when they are told there isn’t a funded place for their child. This is not only upsetting for the parents but also for the staff of the nurseries who have developed strong attachments with children from a very young age. NDNA Scotland, on behalf of our members and of the parents who use their provision, is working with the Scottish Government to ensure that ‘provider neutral’ really means provider neutral and offers real choice to parents.