I am very pleased to have secured a 90-minute debate on Thursday on the 30 hours of funded childcare and to have opportunity to detail all the problems experienced by parents, nurseries and childminders - and to have the Minister responsible to have to respond to the debate.
It will be easy for the Government to think they have ‘got away with’ the underfunding of the additional hours - childminders, those running nurseries and working parents of small children are generally busier than most of the population - so less likely to complain.
The Government are hoping that we will all go away and get on with looking after our children, and that they can carry on the underfunding scandal, ignoring the long-term implications for the childcare sector and for children.
The more MPs who speak in Thursday's debate, the more that the government will realise that they cannot get away with it. MPs are far more likely to attend and speak in a debate if they realise that it is important for their constituents.
Please do email your own MP to request that they attend the debate in Westminster Hall on Thursday from 3pm to 4.30pm - even better if you could also give your views or experience and ask them to raise it with the Minister in the debate.
I will be calling for the government to rigorously assess the impact of the 30 hours (under) funded places and to address the funding urgently in the Budget later in the autumn.
The more that we can evidence the impact of the underfunding on the sector, the more impact we will have. But I know how hard it is for childcare providers in a competitive environment to raise their concerns about the need to raise prices for extras or for children who do not qualify for the 30 hours, about quality of employment, and the overall quality of childcare.
That is why I am determined to fight the corner for the sector, especially for small, independent nurseries of which we have so many in my own rural constituency, who provide excellent care and early learning, adapting to the varying needs of parents, children and regulations, but who are finding it increasingly tough just to get by, and even tougher to look to afford the well qualified, experienced staff, and low enough ratios to deliver the standards required for a Good or Outstanding rating.
I have four children, ranging in age from eight up to 25, so I have seen a lot of change in childcare over the years - most of it very much for the better. I would hate to see a situation where the lack of sustainable funding means that all the work that has gone into raising standards starts to be eroded because the sums just don't add up.
Or that providers have to raise fees for younger children (as many have), which will impact on employment levels for single parents and for second earners in families - hugely important determinants of child poverty and children's life chances - and we start travelling backwards.
I very much hope that these scenarios can be avoided, but the government's funding projections until 2020 almost guarantee a slide as the sums just don't add up.
That is why I have requested the debate - to ensure that I can speak up for childcare providers, for parents, and for children. To ensure that proper scrutiny is put in place, and the government are held to account for their funding levels and the impact it will have.
We will have precious few opportunities over the next few months to hold the government to account like this - this is probably the longest debate we will have. So please help us in Parliament to make the best possible case we can by emailing your MP to let them know your views and ask them to attend.
If you would like to copy me in, please do email me at Ruth.firstname.lastname@example.org