Council seeks views about alternative childcare arrangements

Posted on: 29 June 2016

Devon County Council is asking users of a dedicated crèche about their future childcare arrangements.

The Council took over responsibility for the management of the crèche at Compass House, Exeter in April 2016 from Devon Partnership NHS Trust who provide mental health services from the site.

Although not a health service requirement, the crèche is for use solely by people accessing mental health services at Compass House, where it provides childminding while they attend appointments on the same site.

But the purpose had become lost as parents left their children at the crèche for longer periods while they went to do other things elsewhere.

Some parents continued to use the publicly subsidised crèche even when they no longer accessed mental health services at Compass House.

De-registration from Ofsted’s Early Years register in April this year made it a requirement that children could only be looked after at the crèche for the time that their parents were on site attending their appointment.

In the months since the Council has managed the crèche, which costs £20,300 and employs three members of staff, the number of children who have attended the service has reduced to the extent that in April the service cost £81.91 per child per hour to run. Parents pay just £1.50 per session and in April a number of sessions had no children attend.

The Council considers that situation to be financially unsustainable and is suggesting that parents can use a number of alternative childminders in the area, which the Council can help them identify, while they attend appointments at Compass House.

There are about 15 registered childcare providers within a mile of Compass House, and a further 53 registered childcare providers within a five mile radius, according the Devon’s Family Information Service.

The Council is asking parents who use the service what they think about that proposal, inviting responses by Wednesday 13 July.

A Council spokesman said:

“Elsewhere in Devon people have always made their own childcare arrangements while they attend their appointments. The Council will make a decision about the future of the crèche after we’ve considered responses from users of the service. Whatever is decided, the outcome must not hinder people’s ability to attend their mental health appointments at Compass House.”

For more information, visit the Council’s Have Your Say webpage.

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