Oliver Steeper: Grieving parents condemn Boris Johnson’s childcare plans

Posted: 9th May 2022

The parents of a baby boy who died after a medical emergency at a nursery have launched a petition against plans to reduce adult supervision in early years childcare.

Oliver Steeper died in September, days after he was believed to have choked at Jelly Beans Day Nursery in Ashford.

His parents said reducing childcare costs by easing health and safety rules would put children “at risk”.

The Department for Education said any changes would require consultation.

Current rules mean there must be one adult to every three children aged two years or younger, and one adult to every four children aged two years and over.

The BBC has learned that prime minister Boris Johnson wants to lower the legal limits on adult supervision for children in England, as part of a drive to reduce living costs.

Zoe and Lewis Steeper said: “Relaxing the rules will not only put children at risk, but also decrease the quality of care and essential early years’ education they are receiving.”

The couple added they were “all for reducing the cost of living” but warned government should “do this by increasing funding for the sector, not by relaxing rules that are there for the safety and wellbeing of children and staff alike”.

They also raised concerns about the impact of the proposals on the mental health of early years’ staff who the couple say are “already over-stretched and underpaid”.

In a statement the Department for Education said it was “looking for ways to improve the cost, choice and availability of childcare providers”, and added that “health and safety as well as quality of provision will continue to be of paramount importance”.

Ofsted suspended Jelly Beans Day Nursery’s registration immediately after the incident, and the nursery has since closed completely.

Kent Police have been contacted for comment regarding an ongoing investigation.

The Steeper’s petition has so far attracted more than 9,000 signatures.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-61320272

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