The Government's own out-of-school childcare initiative is an example of a good idea spoiled by lack of a halfpenny-worth of tar. Here on the Isle of Wight we have generated more places than ever anticipated, and demonstrated not only the latent demand but also the value of an early years unit that draws together education and social services. Yet, small out-of-school care schemes in rural areas with low wages and insecure or seasonal employment patterns struggle to survive. Fees have to be kept low if parents are to afford them, yet they have to be sufficiently high to pay for qualified staff. The result is that schemes both exclude children in greatest need and, in many areas, cannot afford to pay staff a living wage.
One solution would be to target help at poorer families. This would boost the numbers in small rural clubs, both enabling the cost to be kept low and helping financial viability. Additionally, the Government's childcare initiative, due to end in March 1996, could be extended in a modified form to provide on-going support to local umbrella federations of clubs. These would ensure that the undoubted benefits of the initiative continue to be felt.
Isle of Wight Rural Community Council
Newport, Isle of Wight
17 JuneReuse content