The private sector and childcare | Letters | Society

KeepHealthCare.ORG – The private sector and childcare | Letters | Society

Helen Penn warns us about the risks of the expansion of privatised childcare as the government makes contracts with more private chains to help provide accessible childcare and reduce fees for parents (Why parents should fear the privatisation of childcare, 14 May). She foresees a Carillion situation and the risk of failure which faced the Australian government in 2008, when ABC Learning, then one of the world’s largest private childcare providers, went into liquidation as a result of burdening itself with debt while chasing aggressive expansion. It cost the Australian taxpayer a lot of money to bail it out because it was too big to fail, but interestingly it provided the Australian government with an opportunity to do something different. They replaced it with Good Start, a large childcare social enterprise.

Her other comment, that only the private sector fails, is untrue, as the UK government’s strategic partner 4Children went into administration in 2016. The other suggestion, that the state will provide, is also high-risk. The state can never deliver a fair market – a live example being the inability or possible unwillingness of the current government to pay the right costs for childcare contracts.

As CEO of the largest childcare social enterprise in the UK, I would urge the government to consider what the Australians did and build the social enterprise bridge between state and private providers. That way there may be more chance that taxpayers’ money is also invested into those businesses which drive strong and identifiable social impact.
June O’Sullivan
CEO, London Early Years Foundation

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