Published: 06:00, 24 January 2021
A village pre-school facing imminent closure has been saved due to a funding U-turn.
Stepping Stones Pre-School in Lynsted, near Sittingbourne, sent a letter to parents and carers last week fearing it would have to shut its doors for good.
The nursery, like other early years settings, was due to hold its headcount which would determine how much funding it would receive the following term, based on the number of children in its care.
But with many isolating or home learning, there were fears it would be penalised for having lower numbers, which could have forced it to close. Pre-pandemic it would look after up to 35 children, but this dropped to about 26 last year, and during lockdown stands at just seven.
Manager Bev O’Regan said: “In previous lockdowns, the government said we could still receive funding for our children based on the number registered. But, this month, the guidance changed to say we’d only receive funding for those who attended - despite people being told to stay at home.
“That is our main income and I couldn’t see a way for us to survive without it. The other bit of our funding is from parents paying for their children to come but across the week, at the moment, we only have seven children attending because of lockdown - we’d have lasted just weeks if we didn’t get the government funding.”
However, after leaders at Kent County Council wrote to the government calling for an urgent review, new guidance was released on Friday.
Bev said: “It seems more achievable now as we’re going to get the funding. It will still be tough, but we’ll do our utmost to keep on going.”
Milly Massoura, early years teacher at Stepping Stones, added: “Early years provision is really important in a child’s development. We hope the government now recognises the sector so we can continue throughout this pandemic and beyond.”