Some preschool youngsters will miss out on nursery hours over the Easter break – despite being enrolled to attend.
Perth and Kinross Council has taken the decision to close all of its nurseries over the Easter period, including those which usually offer an extended program outwith term time.
Children of parents who choose this option are entitled to attend nursery fewer hours per week compared to those who attend during term-time only.
Two week’s notice
The council made the decision to close these facilities over Easter back in January, however some parents were not told until last week.
A spokeswoman from the council said a template letter informing parents of the decision was prepared for schools to use in early March, but it “did not reach all of our settings at that time.”
Tamara Franklin, 48, whose four-year-old daughter Florence attends the Community School of Auchterarder, said it was “too short notice” for her to arrange alternative childcare.
She said: “If we had that notice in January, when it was decided, then we could have dealt with it and organised something else.
“We’re lucky that our employers are understanding but a lot of other people’s aren’t and if the same thing happens again in summer then some parents might end up losing their employment.”
Tamara complained to her MSP Roseanna Cunningham and directly to the council’s early years and primary department.
In response the department told her when the decision was made and said the reason for the closure is to allow staff to take annual leave, having worked throughout lockdown, which will ensure extended hours can be offered during the summer break.
Tamara, of Blackford, said: “The nursery staff have been amazing and a Godsend in allowing parents to work.
We all need holidays.” Tamara Franklin.
“They’ve been doing that since February – I understand they need holidays, we all need holidays especially when we’re working in stressful situations.
“But we weren’t told that was the reason, we were only told it was due to corona and it made me wonder if there had been cases which we weren’t being told about.”
Tamara says her biggest concern is the lack of communication between the council and parents and the delay in passing on the information after the decision was made.
She added: “It’s worrying that they can just take away a service like that which so many people rely on without any form of consultation.
“If we took away the pandemic, we would never accept that.
“I’m worried this could set a precedent of it happening again and think it needs to be raised and these services need to be held accountable, otherwise it will just be forgotten.”
Council admits delay
A spokeswoman for the council said: “Throughout the main pandemic lockdown periods, the council sought to support families of essential workers and vulnerable children by offering childcare in our children’s activity centres that were set up within a number of our schools.
“As a result of these additional pressures, we determined in January that we did not have the capacity to open all our ELC settings offering childcare 45 weeks a year over the Easter holiday period and that these would be closed in line with primary schools.
“A template letter was prepared for schools’ use in early March to give parents/carers time to arrange alternative childcare.
“Unfortunately, however this did not reach all of our settings at that time.
“Clearly this situation would have an adverse impact on families and we would apologise for any inconvenience that has resulted.”
She added: “The Easter closure will enable us to deliver the summer holiday offer, therefore for families who have chosen the 45 weeks childcare option council ELC settings will be open as planned over the summer.”
Families in Perth and Kinross requiring alternative childcare over the Easter holidays as a result, are urged to view other services available locally.
Council nursery services remain unaffected in Fife, Dundee and Angus, where services continue as usual.