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Research undertaken this summer by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has highlighted serious concerns over the availability of local authority-funded nursery places in Wales, with figures showing a decline in occupancy rates that the national charity fears may impact on long-term sustainability.
The Business Performance Survey, undertaken by NDNA Cymru throughout May and June, sourced figures from member nurseries in Wales and recorded that only 52 per cent of those surveyed have received any free part-time early education funding. Figures also record that 81 per cent of nurseries questioned have been unable to make any profit on the funded places, with average losses estimated at £800 per child per year.
Though accepting that tough economic times are to blame for putting many Welsh nurseries in a fragile position, the NDNA calls upon local authorities to seek to support all providers in meeting the objectives of the Foundation Phase.
Chief executive Purnima Tanuku OBE comments: “Due to nearly half of nurseries not being involved in the delivery of Foundation Phase places, NDNA Cymru has heard of instances where children are transferred between several childcare settings in a day. This lack of continuity is disruptive for children.
“Local authorities must support nurseries to deliver the Foundation Phase and hourly rates must cover costs. To secure the involvement and long-term sustainability of nurseries in these programmes, local authorities must ensure providers are funded at a viable level. Parents should have the right to choose where their child accesses their Foundation Phase entitlement to minimise disruption and support families with the continuity of care for children in their early years.
“The Business Performance Survey provides vital information about business sustainability, the workforce, sector support needs and funded nursery places and NDNA Cymru will continue to highlight these issues with the Welsh Government.”