Rachael Maskell MP is calling on York City Council to do the right thing and support local council run nurseries that have decided to close on public health grounds to reduce the transmission of Covid19 in the city.
As the current situation stands, some nurseries have taken the decision to remain open to children physically present just to support children with additional needs and those of keyworkers’ since they are unable to do so without cuts to their funding through lost revenue. Nurseries must still advertise as fully open to receive Government funding for places of children not in attendance.
Ms Maskell is asking the Council to step in and cover the funding gap so that council run nurseries in the city can make the decision to close on public health grounds without fearing for their viability in future.
Labour controlled Councils like Brighton and Salford have been proactive in supporting council nurseries to make the move to close during lockdown to all but those children that need to be in school, the same as in primary and secondary schools.
Ms Maskell is urging York Council to do the same and support council run nurseries to remain as safe as possible at this time.
More widely, Ms Maskell has also written to Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families to strongly urge the Government to revisit the decision to keep all nurseries fully open and to express that changes to the current guidance need to be underpinned with targeted support for the sector.
Ms Maskell says:
“The confusion over the nursery sector continues, without clear leadership, which is being demonstrated in Labour controlled Councils like Brighton and Salford. Nurseries remaining fully open encourage more contacts between adults and children, between adults and between children. Every contact carries a risk. If we are to reduce transmission of Covid19, then it is important to minimalise contact.
“However, no nursery should be treated detrimentally because it is trying to do the right thing. If nurseries state that they are only going to open to children who need additional support or because their parents are working to help us all in response of the pandemic, then City of York Council should underpin them. If nurseries fold because they haven’t had the support, then this is going to challenge the provision of childcare in the city and slow recovery, especially for women who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.
“It is time for joined up thinking for the early years sector to be given priority, and for a complete review over what has become a broken marketised system. If we, as a city, are to seriously prioritise the needs of children in their most formative years, then there is a duty to ensure that we have a comprehensive early years strategy, which prioritises investment to give every child the best start in life, with no caveats or detriment for those wanting to safeguard their families through these very challenging days.”