The shadow minister for children and families visited a preschool in Boston Spa this week.
Alison McGovern, who is the MP for Wirral South, spoke to a group of parents and hands-on manager Anjie Fulford at Deepdale Community Preschool, which leases space from Boston Spa Children’s Centre.
She was joined by the Labour Parliamentary prospective candidate for Elmet and Rothwell Veronica King, and spent time with the preschool’s ‘rising five’ group, in which children aged three and above can prepare for school.
Mrs McGovern said: “I was very impressed with what I saw, especially with the staff and parents who seem absolutely dedicated, and I was even more impressed with the kids, who are just brilliant.
“We have a vision for child care and early years that gives parents a hand and a help. Child care costs have gone up by a third in the last few years, so we want to increase free child care for three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours.
“But it is much more than that, it is making life good and what could be better than making sure Britain is a really good place to be a child?”
The preschool leases a room from the children’s centre and runs on a term basis from 9am to 3pm.
It has been open for about five years now, and the management wants to expand the nonprofit organisation.
During her visit, Mrs McGovern watched as the children painted and sang songs.
“Nobody comes into this world knowing how to be a parent and it is often terrifying,” she said.
“Listening to the experts here, you release how much better it is as a parent to have access to those experts.
“Of course it is about maintaining your work and your career, but there is something much bigger than that which is what every parent wants - the best for their child.
“Places like this help parents give kids the absolute best in life. That is why we want to work with Labour’s legacy with Sure Start and the 15 hours.”
Mrs King added: “One of our main election pledges is on child care and it comes up everywhere.
“That is why we are going to increase the free hours, and we can all see how amazing the preschool is for children and families.
“I am really pleased that the cuts Leeds City Council has faced have not happened here, but lots of children’s centres all over the country have been affected and that is one of the major failings of this government.”
Hands-on manager Anjie Fulford, who works with the children in their activities, showed Mrs McGovern around the ‘rising five’ group, which she said is the only one in the area.
She said: “I tried to get over to her the importance of investing in early years - if they don’t get that right there is not much hope for the future.
“She seemed quite positive and I asked her what the plans would be for special needs and she said she felt there should be more money coming in and a focus on inclusions.”
However, funding is a real issue for child care centres and nurseries like Deepdale Community Preschool.
“We need funding because a child from age two to five needs as much stability and stimulation, care and appropriate experiences to help it excel and learn in every area,” Mrs Fulford said.
“If we don’t put money into nurseries like ours you are not doing right for the future, you are not investing in those very young children.”
Preschool manager Kathy Hudson later told the Wetherby News that a visit like this means the quality of work on offer is given a wider audience.
She added, however, that money is urgently needed.
Preschool manager Kathy Hudson said: “We are short on funding and we need money to do what we need to do, but the beauty of being nonprofit is that we can, as the politicians say, put people before profit.
“At Deepdale all of the staff members are mature staff, they have had children and they all have that experience, and I do think that is a great quality.”