This morning my friend PRYMFACE brought to my attention the fact that a scheme for young parents to get childcare so they can continue their education is under consultation. The scheme is known as Care to learn and has been around for a number of years now.
When I had my first son at 16 I knew I wanted to return to education, when I was ready. I had fallen pregnant in my final year of school and by the time he was born had sat my GCSE’s and received the results, whilst most of my mates went off to college I decided to stay at home with my son, I didn’t want to leave him with strangers quite yet!
In 2008, at 18, I decided I needed to get my foot back in the door and so signed up for a part time, two days a week pre-access course giving me the best of both worlds, I was able to spend the majority of my time at home with my son and some of the time learning. He was also able to go to my neighbour who was a registered childminder so I was happy he was quite safe.
In 2009 I signed up for a full access course, 4 full days a week, this meant finding childcare and after visiting a number of childminders and a few nurseries I found the perfect one where I was happy he would be safe and looked after. She was an angel and was patient with the care to learn process but once it was sorted we had no problems and pickle was extremely happy there.
Neither of those courses would have been possible without care to learn! Care to Learn was paid directly to my childcare providers so I didn’t have to worry about it.
If care to learn hadn’t been an option college would not have been possible for me! It did however mean my college education ended as I reached the age where funding was no longer possible from care to learn and so due to the uncertainty of the other options I then moved onto the open university. So to me their proposals of lowering the age in my opinion are not ideal. The downfalls of care to learn was also that the funding is quite low which often meant it was restrictive as to what childcare providers he could go to, after all we all know how flamin expensive childcare can be!!
So what are they proposing? Well according to education.gov.uk the following:
The nine-week consultation starting today outlines four possible options:
- Moving to a discretionary fund
- Linking support to income
- Changing the weekly rates paid
- Changing the age criteria. This is the Department’s preferred option.
It would mean that those aged 18 and under at the start of their course would still be covered by the scheme. Those aged 19 (and over) would be able to apply for childcare support through the discretionary adult learner support arrangements funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). This option would bring eligibility for childcare support in line with other forms of financial support for young people and adults.
I personally believe that the scheme is fantastic as it is and I really don’t want to see any of these changes made as it is then going to limit the amount of young parents that can access it! In the academic year 2009-10 the programme cost around £37 million and provided childcare support to 7,933 young parents. The scheme currently supports around 6,300 young parents. After all how many times have you heard complaints about young parents doing nothing with their lives? If you take this away or make it harder for them to access it then your going to ensure that’s the case right? Keep it there and more young people are going to be able to further progress in their education and make something of their lives which is what they want to do. But they cant afford it themselves and they need the help of care2learn.
Prymface has set a survey for young parents weather you have accessed care to learn or not. If you ever were one then please do fill it in, you can find it here, she also wants to hear any other comments or stories that she can help pass on so please do drop her a line to email@example.com if you have anything to add.
Please help spread the word and hopefully we can stop any changes being made that will inhibit young peoples chances of accessing further education.