CALLS are being made to address a ‘crisis’ in childcare in Dawlish.
Councillors in Dawlish have backed an appeal to improve provision for parents across the area.
Devon County Council has already identified Dawlish as being a hotspot area where more childcare provision is needed especially for those children aged from birth to two years.
A Notice of Motion was put forward by Mayor Cllr Rosie Dawson, calling for the town council to ‘support and commit’ to action to with local campaigners to improve family and children wellbeing across the Dawlish area by encouraging an increase in childcare providers.
Members of the full council passed her motion.
It said, unless action is taken to address this shortfall, matters may well get worse as the population increases and ‘funded’ hours increase in 2024 which could lead to less overall spaces being available. Currently parents struggle to find childcare places, travelling to Exeter or Torbay.
There is a shortage of year round care being available, not just term time, the motion states. She said: ‘Parents and carers of children should have choice and feel empowered to work should they wish to, not compelled to take years out because of this shortage.’
It was agreed the town council write to Devon County Council and Teignbridge District Council asking for ‘urgent engagement’ with Dawlish town council and local campaigners about the childcare crisis.
Councillors also agreed to write to MP Anne Marie Morris, and relevant ministers, expressing concern about the lack of childcare provision, especially light of the government’s new funding proposals which will take effect from April 2024.
Devon County Council officers are to be asked to meet Dawlish County Cllr Martin Wrigley, Cllr Dawson, Dawlish town clerk and local campaigner Lynne Nicholls to discuss how Dawlish Town Council can move forward with the authority to ‘encourage, enable, and facilitate’ more people into childminding in and around Dawlish.
Members also want to discuss the possibility of Dawlish Town Council and its councillors to support a ‘collaborative pilot scheme’ in the town to appeal for more people to become childminders.
It is estimated 739 children in the Dawlish area, including Ashcombe, Mamhead and Starcross, are aged between birth and four years old.
That is out of a population of 18,399.
Dawlish is the largest settlement with a population of more than 15,000 so has the largest proportion of younger children.
Councillors say with the population set to increase with the continued development of hundreds more homes on the outskirts of Dawlish, the numbers of young children is set to rise.