Hustings event and the final Covid 19 childcare reference group meeting
Today I, Diane, had the opportunity to participate in the Federation of Small Business hustings event where I asked the economy representatives from each of our main political parties for a commitment that childcare strategy will be progressed as a day-one priority for a newly elected assembly and an adequate budget to allow that to happen. All parties agree on the urgent need for this but the political landscape is something we cannot predict – time will tell!
It also marked the last day of meetings of the Covid 19 reference group for childcare which has met countless times over the past two years.
Whilst there are many positives to come out of the past two years we are still in such a period of instability in our economy and in our political landscape. Of course, we all know that staff and children are still contracting Covid and we are still following guidance in regard to that. We almost feel on one hand that it is unforgivable for our departments to stand down any childcare related committee at this point in time when we feel so vulnerable but yet, on the other hand, we are reassured that the time to move on from the ‘Covid’ element is now. Going forward we can only hope that new committees will be formed in a timely manner – in terms of the strategy and a review of our standards – and that the voice of childcare providers and working parents won’t be forgotten.
Many years ago – actually 25 to be exact, I completed an MBA where my thesis looked at change management. So I would like to consider myself not someone who is adverse to change and someone who looks to change as a positive. However this does sit uneasily with me just at the moment, we have come so far to let things slip back. I almost think a round table accountability group keeps things progressing, where departments can keep abreast of current issues and employers can have an understanding of departmental reasoning behind decisions. We have to say that those from departments involved in the reference committee have been incredibly dedicated but they too have to act on the direction of Ministers, so we hope they get the support they need to continue on in their roles going forward in a timely manner.
At Sleepy Hollow we will continue to lobby independently of committees for affordable and accessible childcare for all working parents. We will continue to sit on committees and attend meetings where we can to ensure that the voices of clients and our workforce are heard.
In the meantime however we will shift our focus on all things Sleepy Hollow – we have some exciting news to share tomorrow or Thursday about our own plans- and we live in hope that those in power and those in our local departments will follow through with their commitments.
I’d just like to thank my fellow employers who sat on those committees over the past two years for their support, commitment and friendship. I think they will agree at times it was like a second job for us all but here’s to the future and brighter days ahead!