It has been quiet for a while I know, but I have been on the case. I wrote to my local councillor and MP, whilst I got nothing back from the MP, I received a response from the local authority. They directed me to various bits of information about childcare, much of which I’m afraid to say was no help. However they did direct me to a contact in the Early Years department I think, who has a team dedicated to supporting childcare providers in the borough. A few days ago I called up and spoke to a very lovely lady who thought the idea was good (but probably secretly that it was unrealistic) who informed me about all the regulations and requirements regarding childcare. I reminded her that really, I was seeking a creche facility, this dramatically reduces the level of regulation but could be tricky as you can only run it for four hours.
Thinking about it though, four hours is fine, 10 -12, lunch time and then 1-3pm, perfect for school runs if there are older children. I also wondered if we could be really cheeky and run for two hours, an hour break and a ‘new’ creche could start and run for another four hours! Well we will have to wait and see as that is the least of my problems.
Now I have to find a ‘suitable’ location, there must be changing facilities, children’s toilets, kitchen etc which I can understand but that will limit where I can look. I need to find a place with either suitable facilities or willing to make the adjustments. In addition to this, the location still needs a separate space for parents to work in. I suppose we can be more flexible there, with laptops and wifi the adult requirement doesn’t need to be so high.
So, the search begins…
It all started after the Budget came out and I was furious to see that yet again there was little support for families, particularly those with very young children and one earner households. To me as the mother of a 2 year old, the childcare ‘offer’ was a joke. Here I was in the early stages of setting up a social enterprise, started mostly with my own resources and with the help of fantastic volunteers but without an income. We all know it takes time, but in the meantime my growing toddler, needed much more attention and yet so did the business. What were my childcare options? Pay £40-70 a day? Not enough income available so that wouldn’t work. I can get much appreciated help from family sometimes for meetings and things but not enough to make a real dent in the work I need to do. Then I wondered, how many other women might be in a similar position, with talents, skills, ideas, and who feel ready to get back into the workplace or set something up but have no way of covering the childcare gap? With all this talk of supporting women, getting into leadership roles, starting businesses, why is there little or nothing by way of practical support to women with children under 3? I recently heard about these co working flexible office hubs and some offer creche facilities, this could be great I thought till I looked at the cost. I’m not at the right stage in my business to afford it, but it is still a good idea. In fact, a ‘community’ version of this could be just what is needed. It would be available to women in the early stages of business start-up and to those who perhaps might want to prepare for getting back into the workplace by volunteering for a local charity or social enterprise. It would be free of charge and therefore limited to a specific period of time but funding could come from a variety of sources including private sector sponsorship. The return on investment for a facility like this could be huge as thousands if not millions of pounds would not be wasted due to barriers faced by us mum-folk. It would also benefit and strengthen the local community socially and economically. I am sure there are yet more unforeseen benefits that would come about from such an initiative.