Playgroups 'could expand day care'

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(First Edition)

ALMOST half of all playgroups would offer full day care for children if more public funds were spent on nurseries, according to a report published yesterday. Child-care shortages would end and working parents would not be tempted to leave children 'home alone'.

The report, based on a study of 100 playgroups by the Pre-school Playgroups Association, found that almost all would extend their hours, given more funding. About 45 per cent of women with a child under school-age work either full or part-time - but there are only eight publicly funded day nursery places for every 1,000 children under five. The 47 groups which said they would offer full day care estimated they would need 702,000 - an average 14,000 each - to carry out improvements necessary for the extension of their hours.

Margaret Lochrie, chief executive of the association, said: 'If nearly 50 further day-care units have been identified this easily .. think how much more could be achieved through planned action.'