Childcare should be provided free at the point of use by the public sector.
Currently Scotland’s childcare provision is patchy, complex and expensive. We need a radical overhaul of childcare provision to ensure that it provides what families actually want: a safe nurturing environment for their children, that doesn’t cost the earth. This will mean extending flexible working and leave for parents; and fair pay, training and career paths for those working in childcare.
There is a consensus in Scotland around the expansion of free childcare. We welcome this, however the promises of expansion must be accompanied by firm commitments to deliver the resources and funding to make that happen. As well as the many fine words about the role and value of childcare there
Public delivery is the most cost effective way forward: money won’t be lost to profit, and is where we will be best able to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive service. Public delivery also makes it easier to ensure that the workforce is properly paid and well qualified.
Public delivery also gives better protection to childcare workers who need all the same rights and opportunities, for example flexible working, as other workers. Appropriate pay and good terms and conditions are how you attract and keep skilled workers.
Working with children is not just about the time spent with each child. Workers also have to plan, evaluate, and assess learning and keep detailed records of each child’s progress. There needs to be wider recognition of what these posts involve and adequate funding for the staffing levels and hours of work required to do the job.