Late-night nursery to serve needs of ‘flexible labour market’

Happy Days is planning on staying open until 10pm. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Happy Days is planning on staying open until 10pm. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
18
Have your say

A NURSERY in Dalkeith is set to introduce late-night opening hours in a bid to cater for the busy schedule faced by modern parents.

Happy Days, on the town’s High Street, is considering throwing open its doors until as late as 10pm to look after children aged 12 and under.

A lot of our parents are consultants at the hospital, or nurses and doctors, and a lot of them work offshore as well. These parents work longer. They want more flexible hours. They are not doing a nine to five job.

Christina Walters

Bosses at the nursery said the service – which will cost £10 an hour, compared to the normal £5.50 daytime rate – will cater for mums and dads whose normal working hours are no longer nine to five.

But some parents raised concerns on the nursery’s Facebook page about how families “may use this service to perhaps the detriment of their child”.

Under the plans – which would need to be put before the Care Inspectorate before they got the go-ahead – staff will give youngsters their dinner, read them stories and get them ready for bed before they are picked up later in the evening.

Owner Christina Walters said she expected around ten to 12 children per night to use the extended service to start with – before more parents signed up as they got used to the idea.

She said mums and dads currently struggle to pick their child up before 6pm, leading to many incurring late fees of £10 for every 15 minutes they are late.

She said: “We do have a lot of demand for it. I think the 10pm time will be ad hoc for parents that maybe have some late business meetings, or some client event. A lot of our parents are consultants at the hospital, or nurses and doctors, and a lot of them work offshore as well. These parents work longer. They want more flexible hours. They are not doing a nine to five job.

“It makes sense for what our parents need. The children will eat together and it’ll be very sociable. Obviously, we would have to look at the children’s well-being too. We want them to be happy.

“Usually even up until the age of three or three and a half, children take naps during the day. So we have beds and quiet spaces for them to sleep. They are comfortable with going to sleep in our care.

“Children are often here from 7.30am to 6pm. We know the children well, and we have good relationships with parents.”

She said the extended opening hours could be brought in as early as the end of March, and would even be available to parents as a last-minute service on the day.

Julia Margo, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said it was “welcome news” that the nursery was responding to the needs of working parents.

She said: “Childcare provision for parents who work atypical hours is woefully lagging behind an increasingly flexible labour market. In 2015 in Scotland, only four per cent of local authorities reported having enough childcare for parents who work outside normal office hours.

“Local and central government must do more to plug this key gap, or childcare will continue to be a major barrier to work for too many families.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com