We have a lack of childcare professionals

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Friday 5th August 2022 12:00 pm
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Hopes and Dreams nursery - pictured is owner Gary Peirce

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The owner of a Douglas nursery feels there are a lack of childcare professionals in the island.

Gary Peirce, of Hopes and Dreams Nursery on Woodbourne Road, was responding to the new childcare strategy recently approved by Tynwald.

It aims to ‘put the child first and deliver better outcomes through improved access to early years’ education’. The government will also be increasing the pre-school credit to help make places more affordable.

Mr Peirce said this was ‘brilliant’ and ‘really supports parents in preserving the buying power’.

He told the Isle of Man Examiner: ‘Our fees have shot up quite substantially this year because of costs increasing. Parents were faced by quite a large increase and now government has stepped in to take some of that burden from them.

‘I think the childcare strategy is a huge step forward.

‘It has been something that has been needed for a number of years but now that all government departments are bought into childcare strategy, I think we can see the start of the necessary changes to support parents on the island through affordability and accessibility.’

He added: ‘The main issue and debate was around under two-year-olds.

‘The childcare strategy puts children at the forefront of it which hasn’t been the case before, however the under two element of it is not about the children.

‘Developmentally, under twos don’t need childcare in a group setting. Childminders are better served, in my opinion. It should be family, childminders, and then nurseries at the bottom of the list of best placed to provide them with the care they need.

‘The challenge with the under twos for the sector is that the ratio of adults to children is 1:3. When they’re at nursery age it’s 1:8.

‘All of this is fundamentally challenged by the lack of childcare professionals on the island. It’s no different than any other sector in that there’s a lack of resources.’

Mr Peirce explained that the government is wishing to attract more people to live and work here, but there is a problem with the ‘finite resources’ they have to support children.

‘It seems to me that the government strategy of supporting pre-school credit is counterproductive because you’ll limit the number of already limited staff we do have to under twos and take it away from the pre-school children who the government are spending quite a lot of money,’ he said. ‘I think what we need next is provision of where that strategy comes to because with the rest of the government plans to grow the population, we need to be an attractive venue for families to move to.

‘We have got so much advantage on the island in that it’s a fabulous place to bring children up but our childcare sector needs to help parents that move to the island that don’t have family support.

‘We’re lagging behind other jurisdictions in terms of other support parents do get for children to access quality nursery education.’

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