A SHETLAND childcare provider has been awarded £88,000 through a Scottish Government funding pot designed to help reduce child poverty by improving access to care for low income families.
Hame Fae Hame is one of 15 Scottish organisations to receive a substantial injection of project funding through Children in Scotland’s access to childcare fund.
Director Kaye Sandison said the sum they have been granted to invest in the ‘access to all’ project between now and March 2022 would be of “unbelievable” benefit to the business, which is currently registered for 52 children and has up to 90 on its books.
The flexible approach of the Scalloway-based childcare service, where parents pay by the hour and are not required to commit to a set number of hours each week, has earned much praise from parents and carers.
They also received a very good report from the Care Inspectorate earlier this year.
The new funding will enable the business, which employs 22 staff in a mix of full and part-time roles (notwithstanding the Covid-19 furlough), to enhance its management capacity and plan improvements to its outdoor facilities.
Sandison said: “We were absolutely thrilled when this news came through. The fund is specifically looking at improving the facilities and the premises for low-income families to access, and this money will make an immeasurable difference to the service we can offer.
“Our model, where we only charge by the hour, is relatively unique. Parents are billed for their actual use rather than what they’ve booked, which discourages them from putting poorly children into our care when they can’t afford to be off work and still pay for childcare.
“We’ve always tried to keep costs low, and I’m very passionate about making it easier for women to get back into the workplace.
“Think about a mother starting their own business: one week you might have tonnes of work but the next you might have none, and you couldn’t keep trying to run that business if you were tied into rigid childcare costs.”
Hame Fae Hame currently cares for a mixture of pre-school infants and offers out-of-school hours for pupils aged 5-12.
The number of children registered with the service – which works in tandem with the adjacent Scalloway Primary School – has more than trebled over the past decade.
Shetland Islands Council’s director of children’s services Helen Budge said she was “delighted that the flexibility Hame Fae Hame offers parents and carers has been recognised and it’s great they’ve been awarded this amazing amount of funding”.
“We have a very successful partnership with Hame Fae Hame, including the share of premises,” Budge said. “I know that Kaye and her team will put this additional funding to very good use, which will further enhance their brilliant provision for the bairns.”
Business manager David Sandison said various plans drawn up to develop the business included “indoors out” covered areas.
It is being designed partly in response to Covid-19, to cater for growing demand for childcare that is compatible with flexible working patterns and to ensure children can enjoy outdoor activities for more weeks in the year regardless of what the Shetland weather brings.
Scottish communities secretary Aileen Campbell said school-age childcare was “critical to enabling parents to enter and progress in employment, education or training – helping to increase household incomes”.
“It is equally important for children themselves, with high quality childcare offering further opportunities to grow, learn and play,” Campbell said.
“These projects, and the models they establish, will help shape the future of school age childcare in Scotland and progress our ambitions to eradicate child poverty.”
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