In the land of Mary Poppins … the state of childcare

Why are our needs always last on your list Prime Minister?
I report from London England, December 27th 2009 on a cold and misty night.
I have been researching the subject of childcare in the UK all evening, confidently expecting to find hard evidence of progressive policies. However, to date this is the state of the British childcare system.
Despite a generous source of funding (The National Lottery) in ‘child-care related projects’ most childcare workers barely make above £8 per hour.
OFSTED,
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. We regulate and inspect to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages.
is a government organization that now requires all childcare providers to register with them and complete a EYPS (Early Years Professional Status) course. The EYPS course is offered free of charge.
Sounds progressive doesn’t it.
However, completing an EYPS does not increase a childcare provider’s salary. In other words it’s a mandatory but rather useless piece of paper. 

“By next year, every early years children’s centre (there are nearly 3,000 of them) will be required to have an early years professional on board. The government has set an even more ambitious target for 2015, when all full daycare settings will be required to have at least one. 
But a report published this month by Aspect, the union representing professionals working in education and children’s services, warns that, unless pay and conditions are put in place putting early years professionals (EYPs) on the same footing as teachers, the new status will be in jeopardy. Armed with their new qualification, EYPs could leave the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector altogether (which makes up 80% of the sector), for more lucrative careers, which could plunge early years education into crisis.”

Interestingly mandatory registration with OFSTED and completing the EYPS course does not apply to Nannies only to childcare providers :
“Most people who want to provide childcare for children aged from birth to the 31 August following their fifth birthday must register on the Early Years Register and deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) – a framework for the education and welfare of young children.”
In case you thought you were going insane, here is the dictionary definition of a childcare provider and a Nanny:
Childcare provider: (Social Welfare) care and supervision of children whose parents are working, provided by a childminder or local authority.
Nanny: 1. a nurse or nursemaid for children.
Sleeping on the job?

And just when British working parents thought it couldn’t get any worse.
The PM Gordon Brown recently climbed down on an attempt to scrap tax relief on childcare vouchers from 2011.

“The government has confirmed that it is scaling back its plans to cut childcare for the middle classes, after nine former ministers warned the prime minister that he would lose voters in marginal seats if he pushed ahead. Gordon Brown had intended to scrap tax relief on childcare vouchers from 2011, believing it was badly targeted, with too much going to better-off families. Instead, he wanted to divert that money into more free nursery places for two-year-olds.The government has now announced that top-rate taxpayers would have their benefits halved rather than removed entirely, but basic-rate taxpayers would see no change. However, the government said the concession meant it would take longer to fulfil its pledge to expand free nursery places to 250,000 two-year-olds by 2015.”

So the moral of the story seems to be, the more tax you pay in the UK the less help you’ll get from the government to meet your childcare costs. How does that sound to you kiddo?
Exactly!

In my next blog I’ll reproduce a very interesting (UK) article that explores in greater detail how £21 billion (ear marked for childcare programs) can be squandered by the government.