INCREASED funding for nursery places ‘should help’ with recruiting and retaining ‘good’ staff members, according to the chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel.
Deputy Catherine Curtis said: ‘I think the increasing funding for nursery places having been brought forward is very good news.
‘The nursery sector is struggling to recruit and retain good staff and more support should help them in their objectives for offering the best training to their staff and managing their costs.’
The government announced this week that it was bringing forward funding for nursery places for three- and four-year-olds this year in a bid to help parents and providers with rising costs.
Assistant Children’s and Education Minister Louise Doublet said the decision to bring forward the £228,000 funding – equating to up to £627 per child – from the autumn to summer term followed a series of meetings with the Jersey Early Years’ Association, which represents early-years providers in the Island. In addition, NEF-registered nurseries will receive a slice of an extra one-off £82,000 payment in May.
Deputy Curtis continued: ‘I would only add that the government needs to move much faster with funded nursery care for all two-year-olds firstly, and then planning an offer for the even younger age group.’
Meanwhile, Cheeky Monkeys nursery manager and owner Juliet Pearmain said that the new government funding would help towards the cost of food, which represents a significant cost for the nursery.
Ms Pearmain said their food bill had ‘sky-rocketed’ and when it came to staff wages ‘you have got to compete with everyone else’.
A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research highlighted that investing in childcare could bring greater economic growth, improve parent well-being and give a good start for children.
Referring to the report, Deputy Curtis said: ‘Jersey’s productivity has been declining for the last 20 years. Increased employment rates for parents would deliver higher tax returns and narrow the gender pay gap while bringing more staff into the workforce.
‘Access to early-years education and care can narrow developmental gaps between children before they start school. Jersey’s rate of inequality is growing and any measures to help alleviate inequality should be a priority.’
Last week in the UK Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that all England-resident parents of children aged nine months to five years old would receive 30 free hours of childcare per week by September 2025.