In its manifesto, the association urges the next Government to make a real change for children and families by focusing on three key areas of childcare: choice, cost and quality.
The ‘NDNA Childcare Challenge’ has been published following consultation with nursery owners, managers, practitioners and parents.
Choice for families
The NDNA calls for funding to reach the ‘front line’ in nurseries to enable settings to offer tens of thousands more high quality places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.
According to the association, nurseries have on average 25 per cent extra capacity to offer more childcare than is currently being used.
Cost of childcare
To prevent nurseries having to cover the shortfall of funding for free early education places by pushing up the costs of extra hours, the NDNA urges the next Government to protect early education funding and pay it directly to the parents’ choice of provider, which it says will mean parents pay less.
The association goes on to say that any increase to the number of free hours must be backed by ‘thoroughly costed funding commitments’, as expanding on the basis of the current ‘flawed’ funding system is unsustainable and will ultimately threaten quality for children and choice for parents.
The NDNA also calls for an overhaul of the ‘complex’ childcare funding system, and for the next Government to ease the business burdens on nurseries by making VAT on childcare zero-rated, and give full business rates relief to put private, independent and voluntary providers on a ‘level playing field’ with state provision.
Quality of childcare
The ‘NDNA Childcare Challenge’ says that there must be a drive to improve settings that are not yet good with a joint effort from Government, regulators and the sector.
It goes on to call for regulation of childcare to be robust, accountable, with fair rights of appeal and trusted by providers and parents.
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the NDNA, said, ‘We want families to have a real choice when it comes to choosing a nursery. There should be a wide range of local nursery care offering age appropriate care that is right for their child and their family.
‘As well as choice for families, the NDNA Childcare Challenge is asking politicians to address the cost of childcare. Getting funding right is essential to the future of early years. Currently the amount paid for funded places falls well short of covering the cost of providing the place. These losses. which are in excess of £900 per child per year on three and four-year-old funded places, are unsustainable. Shouldering losses at this level impacts on the business and leaves less money to invest in staff and facilities and ultimately leads to restricted choice for parents.
‘Our third challenge is quality. The early years sector is a stand out sector with 82 per cent of nurseries graded good or outstanding by Ofsted. Nurseries have, on average, 25 per cent extra capacity to offer high-quality childcare than is currently being used. Using these childcare places rather than looking to recreate provision in non age appropriate environments will create more choice for families.’
The NDNA is urging nursery owners, managers, practitioners and parents to sign up to its Childcare Challenge and make their voices heard, like its Facebook page or send a tweet to @ndnatalk using #voteforchildcare