St Helens Council has partnered up with three local nursery providers to deliver increased nursery capacity across the borough after securing Department for Education funding. The funding, totalling £558,661, could be used to expand or refurbish nurseries to provide extra places, ahead of the new 30 hours childcare scheme for working parents, introduced in September.
Portico Nursery Group was among those successful in securing funding and has used it to refurbish and expand Portico Poppets, Thatto Heath, and launch a new centre on the Mere Grange Business Park with 120 nursery places for under-5s.
The family of Violet-Grace Youens, who have close ties with the nursery group, were invited to officially open the new nursery in memory of their daughter. Violet died aged four in March after she was the victim of a hit-and-run while walking home with her nan Angela French, who was also
injured in the incident.
At the launch event, a plaque was unveiled by Violet’s mother Rebecca, dedicating a huge metal sculpture of a giraffe to her memory. The Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, Councillor Joe Pearson and wife Sylvia, were also in attendance.
The other nurseries that were successful in securing the funding include Newtown Pre-School, West Park, which has built an additional building, and Rainhill Community Nursery – due to be extended early next year.
Councillor Jeanette Banks, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Young People and Education, said: “While we welcome the new increased funded childcare offer for working parents, it’s of great importance that our nurseries can cope with the increased demand, and are capable of delivering the same excellent standards. So I’m delighted that we could work with local nursery providers to improve their services, to the benefit of local families.”
Any parents interested in securing a free nursery place in St Helens can find more details on the council’s website at www.sthelens.gov.uk/schools-education/family-information-service
To apply for the 30 hours funded childcare (for 3 and 4 year olds) parents should apply via the Childcare Choices website at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk