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AIBU to think it is ok for our family to use public funded childcare facilities targeted at more disadvantaged families than ours?

(138 Posts)
tigermoth Fri 28-Sep-07 19:39:47

I live in an area of SE London where there's a high level of poverty and crime. There is also a lot of public funding going into services to help ease the burden on families - ie over 20 new children's centres have opened here offering a range of parenting and children's courses, affordable full time nursery places and creche facilities for parents and young children. There is also investment in children's adventure playgrounds where you can leave older children under the supervision of playworkers.

We are a relatively comfortably off, relatively stable family. Our children are too old for us make use the children's centres, but I will be taking my youngest son, age 8, to the brand new adventure playground tomorrow, with a view to leaving him there for a couple of hours.

Yet really, this adventure playground is not designed for parents like me who fancy a few childfree hours. It is designed to give children who come from less stable backgrounds a place to play safely.

I have also read in the newspaper that children's centres, nationally, are not fulfilling their brief to help families in the hard to reach, poorest, most disadvantaged sectors of the community. The funding is there, the staff are there, but it is often middle class parents who have cottoned on to the fact that these new facilities exist. Some children's centre, in an effort to make use of their funding are offering pilates classes and the like.

Which made me think. Is it right for our familiy to use funded family facilities that are open to us, but are are not really targetted at us?

hatwoman Fri 28-Sep-07 19:45:32

very interesting question. I have a friend who has used similar holiday projects for extremely cheap childcare whilst she works. she's not particularly well off but neither is she truly strapped - normal middle class version of trying to get by - but not the intended target of these schemes. I don;t know what the answer is...

JeremyVile Fri 28-Sep-07 19:45:53

If it's open to you and you are not taking up a place that will mean another (more 'deserving') child cannot attend, then I dont think it's a major problem.

Interesting ethical question though.

In an ideal world all places would be filled with children who the scheme is aimed at and there would be no room for it to be used by those who are not in need - but that is clearly not the case.

2shoes Fri 28-Sep-07 19:46:05

well you pay your taxes as well.also surely all these places need a good mix(from a poster who is classed as disavanteged due to the area we live in and having a sn child.)

TellusMater Fri 28-Sep-07 19:48:20

Is he likely to make friends there? Got to be a good thing surely, to stop it turning into some sort of 'ghetto' (for want of a better word). Might a 'targetted' child be turned away because your ds is there?

southeastastra Fri 28-Sep-07 19:49:40

i've heard that alot of children's centres aren't doing as well as hoped (we have one opening here soon).

it's really hard, i can see why they're opening new adventure playgrounds but you can't make children go can you.

at least you're using them!

Coolmama Fri 28-Sep-07 19:50:31

I think if you pay taxes etc. you should be allowed to access all facilities open to you should you choose to do so. If the facilities are not used, I would imagine that it discourages the council from doing anything further.
Whether it is personally accelptable to you is something only you know, but if a disadvantaged child is not losing out on a place, then I would think it's okay. It doesn't sound like they have "limited admissions". (if that makes sense)

pointydog Fri 28-Sep-07 19:53:13

I think it's fine.

Council's targetting or market research or something needs to be improved

tigermoth Fri 28-Sep-07 19:56:01

ds2 will enjoy the adventure playground, I am sure. He has already been to another in our borough and loved it. He mixed well with other children. Meanwhile, I will have a nice quiet wander around greenwich market But the adventure playground is not really there for that purpose is it?

AFAIK there is no shortage of spaces in the adventure playgrounds, so ds2 is not taking up a space that a more disadvantaged child could use.

As for the children's centres, I have no direct experience of them but I understand that loads of public money is being poured into them yet so far the 'target audience' does not seem to be using them.

LittleBella Fri 28-Sep-07 19:56:40

Yes it is OK for two reasons

1. If it is only used by those at whom it is targeted, it becomes ghettoised and stigmatised. As with council houses, it becomes a symbol of defeat, instead of opportunity

2. There is very low take-up of these facilities nationally (don't know about your area) among those targeted. If other people didn't use them, they'd be shut down. So you're helping to keep them going!


Reallytired Fri 28-Sep-07 19:57:34

I can't see the problem. Children's centres are for everyone whether they are rich or poor. I think it does children good to mix with children from different backgrounds.

beansprout Fri 28-Sep-07 19:57:40

If this were a huge issue, I would imagine you and your family would need to fulfil some sort of criteria to be able to access the services.

SSSandy2 Fri 28-Sep-07 19:58:26

think it's fine

Judy1234 Fri 28-Sep-07 19:58:37

This is like whether parents who can afford a nice car and holidays abroad are morally bad for not instead paying private school fees as many of us do for the good of the nation.

southeastastra Fri 28-Sep-07 19:58:43

adventure playgrounds are there for the parents who don't want their children wandering through the streets but want to let them play in a secure area.

in a way it's also aimed at the parents who don't let their children out for fear of traffic etc.

pointydog Fri 28-Sep-07 20:00:02

<xenia sees her chance and pounces>

southeastastra Fri 28-Sep-07 20:00:27

in a way the children wandering the streets etc are taking more natural risks while children kept in don't get the chance, so adventure playgrounds provide the facility. if you know what i mean!

tribpot Fri 28-Sep-07 20:02:22

I've had a similar issue recently - well, related at least. Dh has been awarded the higher rate of the disability living allowance; we don't need the money, but you can't get the blue badge without it. DLA isn't means-tested so there's nothing we can do. My theory is, we pay our taxes (and a lot of my tax has been paid in Sweden at 60%, thank you very much) and we are entitled to what that offers in return.

niceglasses Fri 28-Sep-07 20:04:33

I've wondered this a lot about Sure Start centres. I live in a pretty run down area north of Newcastle - we have lots of Sure start centres and I always feel slightly like I should not be there using these facilities. In fact, I have given up recently because I really don't know if I'm supposed to.

tiredemma Fri 28-Sep-07 20:05:35

I would rather have the nice car and foreign holidays Xenia, than bust a gut working to put my kids through private education.

hana Fri 28-Sep-07 20:05:43

nor is child benefit means tested and I think it should be....

fireflyfairy2 Fri 28-Sep-07 20:05:52

I agree with littlebella

Are they supervised? Do you have to pay for them?

Sorry, you may have mentioned that in your post & I missed it!

southeastastra Fri 28-Sep-07 20:07:51

use them niceglasses, if you don't they'll close.

Jacanne Fri 28-Sep-07 20:08:54

DH goes to a Surestart thing on Saturdays called "Dads Club" and he had doubts about whether he should be there - he and his brother go and are definitely not part of the target audience of young Dads that it is aimed at. Apparently they did have it only open to their target group but they never attended because they found it patronising. As soon as it was open to all Dads it became popular and they did get some of their target group to attend. I take advantage of the Surestart clubs around here - I think it's fine to go.

Jacanne Fri 28-Sep-07 20:10:25

Sorry Little Bella - didn't see your post - but that was kind of what I was trying to say - you did it better though grin

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