contracts, costs, fees and cancellations
It often comes as a complete surprise to many parents that their local out of school service or holiday care service is not a statutory service run by their local council. With the notable exception of Fife Council and some services in Perth and Kinross and elsewhere, the majority of services in Scotland are run by volunteer committees, some larger charities such as the YMCA, or the independent sector. As many are co-located in schools, but never managed by them, it is understandable that parents assume this is a council service.
There is not, at the current date, any statutory obligation in Scotland for out of school or holiday care to be provided. The Scottish Out of School Care Network, alongside many sister national organisations, has consistently lobbied across governments of different political hues for a statutory right and financial investment in out of school care. Our policy newsletter and policy information pages might interest parents interested in joining in with this lobbying. However, this non-statutory status means that very often, unless there is a low cost or free let of school premises, out of school care services receive no funding subsidies at all, or, if cuts are to be made, it is one of the first victims. This is why it is vitally important that parents try to access all the help they can get with Childcare Tax Credits or Childcare Vouchers.
Elsewhere on this website there is up to date information on the current average pay and conditions of out of school care staff in the SOSCN annual worker survey and we also provide current information on the average Costs of out of School care and Holiday Care. You will note that the staff are not well rewarded and the costs of out of school care are still significantly less than the amount many parents may have been paying for nursery care. As a rough rule of thumb, 2013 costs are just under £50 a week for a full place in after school care (5 days a week) or just over £100 a week for a full five day place in holiday care. With full childcare tax credits at around 70% this could mean £15 a week for after school care and just over £30 a week for holiday care. However, to qualify for this, parents are on very low incomes and we recognise that this is still a significant dent in their finances.
Since out of school and holiday care services receive no direct subsidies they do have to be even stricter about parents adhering to contractual terms and conditions to pay for their childcare places. This will include ensuring enough notice is given when cancelling a place and asking for registration deposits, advance or annualised payments worked out monthly or weekly (which can suit some parents). Services may now also have clauses in contracts which allow for closure due to circumstances beyond their control, such as snow days. So it is important to check the terms and conditions and understand them in advance.