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Spalding nursery and childminders face challenges of low funding and staff shortages

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Low funding and a shortage of qualified staff are some of the challenges faced by over-subscribed nurseries and childminders.

Spalding has a massive shortage of baby and pre-school childcare spaces which has left many parents struggling to find help.

Currently there are 742 childcare spaces for under fives and Lincolnshire County Council is looking at a ‘development opportunity’ as a further 95 spaces are estimated to be needed.

Laura Spillett and Stephanie Barrett from BeBright Nursery with their award (56649642)
Laura Spillett and Stephanie Barrett from BeBright Nursery with their award (56649642)

BeBright Nursery owners Laura Spillett and Stephanie Barrett say their Spalding site is full for three to four year-olds for the next academic year with some spaces remaining for two-year-olds.

Former primary school teacher Mrs Spillett said: “There is such a massive shortage of places. I think that is because of the increase in families that are entitled to 30 hours. We offer 55 places a session and if 40 are taken up with 30 hour spaces that only leaves 15 spaces for 15 hours.

“The funding rate is so low for Lincolnshire. We have the lowest funding rate which therefore means that financially it is a real struggle to be able to incentivise quality staff to join the provision.

“The funding rate really needs to increase without a doubt.”

Mrs Spillett said that business rates (£7,000 to £8,000) are an additional pressure, along with rising energy costs and increased national wage, placed on early years settings, which are looking after children with additional needs and whose first language is not English.

Currently the nursery receives £4.20 an hour in funding for three to four year-olds with Government ratios set at one adult to supervise eight children - which officials are looking to relax.

Mrs Spillett said: “We need quality staff to support the children and unfortunately the funding rate is so low that it makes it really challenging.

“Financially we are talking about the national living wage as you could go to work in a factory or Aldi to earn more. You go into childcare because you love the role.”

BeBright has been open for five years and the business partners had spent £25,000 to get the site ready.

Mrs Spillett said: “The local authority needs to look at how to better support settings to be able to financially viable to be up and running.

“If there’s a building that is owned by the local authority that could be adopted to be an early years setting that would encourage others.”

Childminder Michelle Reeper, who runs Reepers Rascals, has nine spaces with the help of two apprentices.

She also agrees that there is a shortage of childcare places and is running a waiting list.

She said: “I am probably getting between five inquiries a day for childcare. When Little Treasures closed within 24 hours I had 22 inquiries with people ringing crying.”

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