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To think increased child care hours will mean the end of playgroups?

(51 Posts)
seizethecuttlefish Tue 26-Mar-19 11:53:41

Just that really.
I think 30 hours of funded childcare is brilliant and will enable more people to go to work if they want/need to however having just discovered baby and toddler groups (and having them help me to feel less isolated) I'm not sure they will be viable with fewer children attending.
I'm in Scotland, so this isn't fully introduced till next year. Just wondered if anyone has seen the impact or has experience to share?

Yerroblemom1923 Tue 26-Mar-19 11:56:30

I think they'll still have their place for mums on maternity leave eg the first year or SAHMs. There will still be plenty of mothers for whom going back to work full time will be too expensive (i.e. their wages will be eaten up in childcare fees)

TakeMe2Insanity Tue 26-Mar-19 11:57:56

Well the impact is being felt already. If you are a sahp and you want to do playgroup type activites or meet other parents with similar aged children you’ll find that there are less children freely available. We are in London and earning so most of our friends get the free 15 hrs. This means that those that weren’t in nusery are now in nursery. Or like us ds did a couple of morning for socialisation can now spend more time at nursery as it costs less but also because there are less children around to play with.

Moonbea Tue 26-Mar-19 12:06:21

I'm in worcestershire and our area is over run with playgroups still. The 30 hours sounds great in theory until you hit school holidays and then have to pay for them. It tends to be high earners that use the 30 hours free where I am. Low earners here tend end up worse off even with government helping to pay for the holiday clubs.

Yerroblemom1923 Tue 26-Mar-19 12:11:35

Moonbea, we live in a rural area and, like you say, high earners go back to work as it's worth it but if your wage is going to basically pay childcare and you'll be out of pocket for 13 weeks a year (school holidays) then you may as well take a break until the kids are older or do part time evening shifts etc

Di11y Tue 26-Mar-19 12:13:22

plus funded hours don't kick in til 3, so lots of under 3s still need play groups.

Wallsbangers Tue 26-Mar-19 12:14:23

There's still loads of playgroups here. Annoyingly they are all on the same day/time.

KaterinaPetrova Tue 26-Mar-19 12:33:54

It's up and running in our area and It's already killed the only three playgroups in our village. There's nothing left except the singing group for little babies. All the two year olds are in nursery now. There's just not enough 0-24 month olds to fill the spaces.

It used to be parents who took over the groups after the kids started school or turned 4 and started morning nursery. (Kids only had 15hrs opposed to the full time hours now so we're still available for playgroups)
These days no one is really there long enough to take over and run them because the kids are in nursery all day every day. It's a shame in a way. It's had knock on effects too. The local Community Centre is in danger of closing because they just aren't getting enough groups using it.

scaredofthecity Tue 26-Mar-19 12:46:45

But it's only from the term after they're 3.

We're eligible but only use 15. We tried more hours and it didn't work for us. I missed having my DS around and he found it too much. I work part time.

Those who use the full 30 hours are usually working full time and so wouldn't be using the groups anyways.

I've not noticed any difference at all. There are always less older ones at these groups anyways.

Smoggle Tue 26-Mar-19 12:50:06

Lots of toddler groups where I am, but almost all under 3s.

Lots of the groups are now kept going by childminders.

QueenOfCatan Tue 26-Mar-19 12:51:18

There's a massive uptake of the free hours here, particularly the 2yo ones. Since DD turned 2 I'm struggling to find groups where there are other 2+yos, though they are still busy.

seizethecuttlefish Tue 26-Mar-19 13:21:55

Interesting replies. Here, most (not sure if it's all) groups run term time only. And it's definitely true that mums don't really run them, as kids quickly go to nursery. Its saved my sanity, being able to meet other mums and feel involved.

AmIRightOrAMeringue Tue 26-Mar-19 13:29:04

It's 30 free hours, from the term after the child turns 3. So ours was almost 3.5 by the time she got the funded hours, by which time she would have grown out of most playgroups anyway.

Lots if playgroups run term-time anyway as people are off on holiday in school holidays plus if anyone has older school age siblings they couldn't go.

It sounds great in theory but nurseries don't get paid the market rate so some make it difficult for example they say you get mornings free then you have to pay afternoons or take them out, and obviously you have to sort out school holidays.

Because you've still got to sort out childcare the rest of the time and it's not always convenient, I don't know anyone who has really made their decision on whether to work or how much to work based on the childcare. Most people I know have gone back at least 3 - 4 days anyway so they 30 hours are just a bonus. It's only made a difference to say one afternoon a week when they might have done a playgroup

So I don't think it will make much difference

QueenOfCatan Tue 26-Mar-19 21:07:20

2yos can be eligible for free hours as well depending on circumstances, if you live in an area that is a bit poorer you'll find a lot of 2yos are entitled to it (as is the case around here).

Funnily enough not many people use childminders around my way either, they all seem to prefer nurseries once the free hours kick in and hvs advise nursery over cms, so we don't even have many cms attending groups (not that we're welcome at many either!)

dirtystinkyrats Tue 26-Mar-19 21:19:50

How do 30 hours funded childcare enable more people to go to work?

In my area to get a place for a 3 year old in a nursery you need to put their name down a year or so in advance. Unless you are already in a job, your chance of getting a job and then getting childcare sorted at relatively short notice is virtually none.

Its a subsidy for better off families. As it was always intended to be by the Tory government. If they really cared about getting people back into work they would have offered more help from 6 months - when you actually need it. Not 3+ when childcare is cheaper anyway because of ratios.

To answer the main point - I think like all voluntary groups some close because they can't get the volunteers. But I stopped going because there were so many kids running around without any supervision - or just coming up to me and expecting me to entertain them, which then became really awkward.

Ihatehashtags Wed 27-Mar-19 06:24:11

Wow 30 hours free is pretty good. We get 18 hrs free here when they hit 3. Daycare is bloody expensive and kindy is cheap or free. Once gain it benefits families who are well off and dont need to have two parents working. So usually they get free childcare 8.30-2.30 x5 days a week from 3 upwards. It’s bloody ridiculous.

hazeyjane Wed 27-Mar-19 06:36:08

All the two year olds are in nursery now.

2yos can be eligible for free hours as well depending on circumstances...

But eligible 2 year olds (where both parents aren't working/receive working tax credits/have a family income under £16,000/child is in receipt of DLA) will only receive 15 funded hours, not 30.

birdsdestiny Wed 27-Mar-19 06:43:56

Playgroups are run by staff and are generally ofsted registered, they tend to run from 8 ish to three. They can run the 3 year old offer and the 2 year old offer ( families with 2 year old receiving certain benefits can get this) in exactly the same way as nurseries if they wish. Due to my job I am aware of all the playgroups in my city, I can't think of any that don't run for full sessions . Playgroups that run for under 2 hours are exempt from ofsted requirements, but very few of those exist anymore. Toddler groups are run by volunteers and obviously are being impacted not just by the 30 hour funding but by the working patterns of families where both work and need chikdcare. Toddler groups are definitely in decline.

InDubiousBattle Wed 27-Mar-19 06:47:30

It's a subsidy for better off families
This has been my experience too, most of my friends earn ok/pretty well, were always going to return to work so it's just a bonus for them really. It also seems to be having an effect on the cms I talk to, most parents want cms for 6-36 months then nursery for the funded hours. In my area this has led to nurseries opening up 'pre school' rooms and following on from then, after school clubs ,sone of the cms are worried as they're losing their mindees at 3 and don't get them back until they get too big for the after school clubs at nursery. Loads of groups rely on cms to keep going.
My dd is 3 and I feel like she's out growing play groups very quickly now but it's not really an issue for us as she's starting school in September .

OneStepSideways Wed 27-Mar-19 06:52:48

Toddler groups are plentiful where I live, during mat leave I went to a different one every day! Most were run by churches. When we got the 30 hours funding I increased my work hours to full time (planned well in advance, I kept her in chosen nursery part time from the age of 10 months to garantee a place.

I think nursery is so beneficial for toddlers and preschoolers, much more than toddler groups (which are fun but there's no structured teaching and they don't get use to being away from mum). If toddler groups are on the way out that's a natural effect of better access to nursery.

The 2 year funding is aimed at families on very low incomes, who would be unable to afford nursery fees. The 30 hours is more to encourage mums back to work. Nowadays with the cost of living, it's hard to manage on a single income, and if women have to wait until the child starts school it's harder to get back into the workforce/progress your career.

OneStepSideways Wed 27-Mar-19 06:56:57

It's a subsidy for better off families

I disagree as there's an upper limit for claiming 30 hour funding (I think if family income is in excess of 100k a year?)
We could afford full time fees but only just, it ate up most of my salary. I wouldn't have gone full time without funding as it's a bit pointless if your entire salary goes on nursery fees. The 30hours allows families to save, and to have a better standard of living, which is surely a positive?

Chosennone Wed 27-Mar-19 07:01:10

I'm pretty sure the focus from the govt was always pre school education rather than childcare.
Studies have shown that to combat many problems we see in schools and the wider society, early intervention is needed. To boost literacy and numeracy skills to combat anti social behavioir and teach positive behaviour.
This is why it is term time only and this is why families who are defined as deprived ecomonically can get the hours from 2 years old. The hope is their will be better outcomes for the child.

OddBoots Wed 27-Mar-19 07:02:18

Quite a few of them around here are as much attended by grandparents caring for grandchildren as they are parents, in some the balance has tipped significantly to more grandparents.

itsaboojum Wed 27-Mar-19 07:04:40

The 30 funded hours may harm playgroups in the short run, although it seems to have had little or no effect here. Playgroups in my area are usually oversubscribed and operate waiting lists.

Some have closed, but for very different reasons: lack of volunteers; closure or high cost of community centres (thanks to a combination of austerity and property developers); high insurance costs and additional conditions demanded by insurance companies, etc.

Honeypickle Wed 27-Mar-19 07:05:31

@OneStepSideways, the upper limit for claiming 30 free hours is one income over £100,000 not the family income.

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