Why we need to think about ‘kids first’ in the UK’s new childcare plan

In June, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the government was to open up the childcare sector to a wider range of companies and start to set up a new childcare service to take on the role of “kids first”. 

We asked our readers for their thoughts on what a “kidsfirst” childcare plan would mean for their children and their childrens future, and here are some of the comments we received. 

We also invited people to share their own views, and we’d also like to hear your feedback on this piece. 

What are the major challenges for “kidsFirst” childcare?

 The key challenges are the growing number of families and small businesses, and the cost of childcare that they pay. 

“I’m not sure what the cost will be.

My kids have always been able to take childcare and it’s always been free, so why can’t they do it for free?” says Jadson, a 27-year-old business student who lives in the north east of England. 

“[I’d love to see] a pay-what-you-want model, so that’s why I’m hoping the government decides to give a free childcare option.” 

But some people are concerned about the potential for children’s services to be “managed for profit”, or for childcare to be outsourced to outside organisations.

 “We would be in danger of losing a large part of our income to the care providers, so I’d rather the government just subsidise the providers for the right price,” says Joanna, a 42-year old teacher from the east Midlands.

“If the government can’t do it in the right way, why not?

I don’t know how the system can work and the care will be so terrible.” 

What’s the public perception about “kids First”?

 A new report from the think tank, Children’s Commissioner, found that more than half of the people polled thought it would be good to have a more open system for childcare.

“[The] public support for ‘kids First’ is at its highest levels in England since 2003, with support for the idea rising from 39 per cent in 2014 to 60 per cent last year, and rising again to 80 per cent this year,” it said. 

But there are also concerns that “kids” will be used as a euphemism for “disabled children”.

 One commenter on the post said: “I think kids are being used as the new ‘disabled children’ because they are seen as disabled, or disabled children.

I think this is what we need.

The real reason for the childcare shortage in England is because of the high cost of living, and that needs to be addressed.” 

Will a “Kids First” childcare service be funded?

“In my view, we need a free-to-opt-in scheme that would be suitable for everyone. 

I don’t think the government should be in the business of picking and choosing which providers they should fund.

I think everyone should be able to have access to a free service, but they should be allowed to pick and choose how they would like to pay for it,” says the mother of a nine-year‑old.

What will be the impact of a free “kids-first” scheme on the child-care industry?

A “kids for free” scheme would provide a “much-needed boost” to the sector, according to one commentator.

But many of those who have written to us are worried about the cost and the impact on the “children first” industry. 

It is currently estimated that a typical childcare service costs between £1,400 and £2,000 a year, while “kids will pay more than that” for a free one.

And while a “free” childcare scheme would be an opportunity for many families to choose childcare over the high-cost options, the cost is likely to be higher than a free alternative.

How does “kids at school” compare to “kids free”?

While “kids ” may not be a term people would be familiar with, the term is used to describe a system where parents have the option to take their children to school.

A system where children have the right to a “day at school”, “free school meals” or “free lessons” for the day, or “the day off” in a designated area.

This is also the case in the US, where “kidsfree” is an “official” policy.

Some parents might be surprised to find out that their children attend “kids schools” or private schools where their children have “free access to the playground and other activities”.

A ‘kids free’ system could be more affordable than a “children free” system, but that’s not always the case.

When we asked a number of