Childcare cost Dundee mum-of-two Nicole Reid most of her wages, and finding babysitters for the school holidays was an “absolute nightmare”.
The struggle was so great that when she had her second child, Lucy, 6, Nicole gave up the job she loved as a support worker for work that fitted in with school – but with less hours and pay.
However, parents like her are set to benefit from expansion of funded school age childcare designed to help low income families work, train or learn.
The Linlathen area of Dundee is one of four parts of Scotland to share in £1 million from the Scottish Government to create more free or low cost childcare places before and after school and during holidays.
Free and low cost school age childcare across Scotland
It is hoped the provision will be rolled out to other areas of the country from next April.
Nicole, 47, a nursery catering assistant, says this will enable parents like her to work or look for jobs outside those in schools.
Previously starting work at 7.30am, Nicole was lucky to find a childminder that would take her eldest daughter from 7.15am – but it was costly and an early start for little Ellie, now 12.
Nicole said: “After I paid my childcare I didn’t have much money left. I would be left with maybe £150, £200 at the end of the month to live on.
“The school holidays were an absolute nightmare. It was more cost and more favours.”
She would turn to her mum and friends to look after Ellie, but said: “It’s not fair to be asking people to give up three days of their week to look after your kids while you’re at work.
“You feel guilty as sin asking all the time.”
Many parents in Linlathen are in a similar situation – with the costs of childcare making work unfeasible or limiting the hours they can work
“You can find employment but the childcare aspect holds you back,” Nicole said.
How families to benefit will be identified
Expansion of school age childcare in Dundee, Glasgow, Clackmannanshire and Inverclyde through breakfast clubs, afterschool clubs and holiday clubs in schools will, the government says, help tackle child poverty.
Families who could benefit will be identified by staff in primary schools, including Rowantree, Ballumbie, Longhaugh and St Francis’, and the local authorities.
Announcing the expansion at Rowantree Primary School, Children’s Minister Clare Haughey said: “Delivering our vision of a high-quality, affordable and accessible system of childcare is crucial to our national mission to tackle child poverty.
“It can help parents and carers to access work, training or study, while children benefit from additional opportunities to socialise and take part in a range of activities.”
Feedback from Linlathen parents will inform how services are delivered elsewhere across Scotland.