Rotherham Council is urging parents to give their child the best start in life by taking advantage of a wealth of available childcare places across the borough. The call comes after a nursery was saved from closure after falling into difficulty as a result of the pandemic.
As a result of lockdown, many childcare places in the borough have gone unfulfilled and experts fear young children have missed out on valuable life lessons and socialising opportunities by staying at home.
This week Pollywiggle closed two nurseries in Rotherham, one at The Hall in North Anston and a day nursery in Treeton. However, Rotherham Council has worked with Lime Tree Nurseries to rescue The Hall and a national nursery chain Welcome Nurseries have stepped in to take over at Treeton .
Despite lockdown, childcare providers have remained open throughout to provide safe, essential care. With reduced numbers, this has put increased pressure on the sector.
Rotherham Council introduced measures to provide support but, with lockdown easing, many parents still aren’t taking advantage of the hundreds of places available.
Lime Tree Nurseries, which was founded by Zoe Croot, currently has five other nurseries in the region and has available spaces at all locations, including The Hall. Zoe says the pandemic has been hard on the sector but fears more for the children who have missed out on valuable opportunities.
She says: “Early years childcare is critical for the development of children and is a lifeline for working parents. It was important to maintain the provision at The Hall and we worked with Rotherham Council to save the venue as quickly as possible. The council has been fantastic and helped us to secure Oftsed accreditation within 48 hours so we could continue to care for the children.
“The pandemic has been a bombshell for this sector and it has been very difficult as we had to remain open to care for the children of essential workers but our numbers were drastically cut with so many parents furloughed or working from home.
“We couldn’t furlough our staff and we had to increase costs to make sure we could provide a safe, clean environment in the pandemic. The challenge now is that parents still aren’t coming back and the risk is that these vital childcare places could be lost.
“More importantly, many children are missing out on valuable experience and lessons. Children born into this pandemic have not been able to socialise with others their own age or experience early years opportunities. That will hinder their progression and it is only right that they can have the same opportunities as other children did before.”
Early years education and childcare is a vital element of a child’s development and free places are available to all three-year-olds and around a third of all two-year-olds in the borough.
Rotherham Council is urging parents to take advantage of these opportunities and trust that their children will be safe and will reap clear benefits from the range of social and educational experiences that are available.
Councillor Victoria Cusworth, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “We were extremely concerned about the loss of childcare places and are very grateful to Lime Tree Nurseries for stepping in to save The Hall.
“We have some fantastic childcare places available in this borough and we want every parent to take advantage of the free places that are on offer.
“These childcare placements lay solid foundations for the lives of young people in the borough and give them the best possible start in life.
“We have done what we can to support nurseries during the pandemic but we now need parents to give their child the best start possible and make use of the safe, nurturing and valuable spaces that are available.”
To learn more about the available childcare provision near you, visit the Rotherham Families Information Service at http://www.rotherhamfis.co.uk/ or contact by phone on 0800 0730230 / 01709 822429.
To enquire about spaces at Lime Tree Nurseries, please contact Anne-Louise by emailing email@example.com