Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has challenged Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to recognise the importance of private nurseries in providing childcare outside school hours.
He said many parents depended on Sandwick Central Nursery and others across Shetland so that they could work. The private nursery at Sandwick is being forced to shut its doors next month after failing to recruit new staff.
Across Scotland, the early learning workforce is being drawn to higher paid jobs in council nurseries which are expanding to offer an increased 1,140 hours childcare a year from August 2020 for three and four-year olds and eligible two-year olds.
Mr Scott said private nurseries played an important role in that expansion, often offering care between 8am and 6pm which was not provided by council nurseries.
Mr Scott asked the First Minister what the government could do to ensure wraparound care is provided for children of working parents so private nurseries can stay open. Ms Sturgeon confirmed that her government would look into the situation.
Mr Scott said: “Private nurseries and childcare facilities are vital if this important childcare expansion is to succeed. But, the roll-out is failing to support and include private partner providers in that push to improve outcomes for our youngest children.
“The closure of the Central Private Nursery is bad for the South Mainland parents and carers who depend on its excellent service. It will have a huge impact on working parents with young children – the very families the government’s expansion is supposed to support.
“Time is running out to fix this before full roll-out next year. These concerns are not news to the to the government. It must act quickly to guarantee partner providers can provide the living wage and that children can receive wrap-around care through working hours.”