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Letters / Where is my freedom of choice?

I am writing to plead that the council reconsiders its decision to refuse partner provider status to Peerie Foxes for three to five year olds (Nursery threatened with closure after early learning bid fails, SN; 28/5/19).

Childcare is by definition a women’s issue. Women face many obstacles when it comes to choosing to return to work after having children. We forego our own desires for our careers and sacrifice of ourselves to do the best for our families. Logistical issues should be removed by authorities in a position to do so, not be aggravated by short sighted, blinkered decision makers.

I have an eight month old son who attends Peerie Foxes and I am more than delighted with his care setting. My three-year-old daughter attends nursery and from August I will not be utilising her full 1,140 hours entitlement. Due to the fact I work part time I feel it is important she plays with, and learns life skills from her parents, not just her peers and nursery staff. However, as her nursery hours are not compatible with my working hours I am forced to find alternative childcare to enable me to fulfil my contract.

My daughter has an entitlement to 1,140 hours and this should benefit both her requirement for nursery and her time with her family and the hours needed by parents to enable them to work. Should Peerie Foxes be granted partner provider status I would have the choice, freedom and flexibility to use her remaining allowance at Peerie Foxes in synchronicity to my hours of employment.

Should the council’s decision stand and the SIC be single handedly responsible for the closure of Peerie Foxes what choices will remain for me as a woman who chooses to work?

Will there be sufficient childminder places available for both my son and daughter as there is no other nursery environment that will cater for them both? Where is my freedom of choice for where I choose to place my children while I contribute to society through my employment? 

This decision needs to be reconsidered within the wider remit of the impact it would have on the socio economic resilience of our community.

If this decision stands and Peerie Foxes closes what are my choices? To pack up and leave my home to source both sustainable employment and appropriate, affordable childcare outwith Shetland? Or resign myself to the kitchen sink.

Sara Fox
Soldian Court