A parent fears she will have to change the school her children go to after an the closure of an afterschool club left her feeling as if she has no options left.

Paula Silva, from Deane,  whose two children at St Peter and St Paul's CE Primary School, says she is in a difficult situation because her children do not  want to leave the school, but she can not keep finishing work early or taking annual leave to collect her children.

It comes as parents received a letter in July of this year, stating that the after school club at Heywood Park Young People's Centre would not continue in September.

The letter – seen by The Bolton News – stated the reason was due to not being able to recruit enough staff.

Paula said: “The Families service at the council gave us a number for a childminder, but it is far away from the school, and it’s £35 a day.

“She managed to reduce the fee to £25, but I have two children so it’s still expensive, and she said she can’t go to the school to pick them up, because she would need a group, and if some people are on holiday, then the group would be too small for her to collect.

“I can’t afford to pay that money, and I don’t know what I can do.

“The only option I feel I have is to change the school, but the kids cry, and don’t want to change school, so then I think I might have to change my job, but my company have paid for training, and if I leave I have to pay it back.

“I understand that the school can’t do the after school club anymore.

“But I feel like no one supports us.”

Paula and another parent Silvia Preza say the alternatives they have been offered are also too full.

Yasmin Qureshi MP has agreed to meet with parents to hear their concerns and says that the issue around childcare provisions is a national issue.

She said: “The state of childcare provision has deteriorated year on year.

“I understand the difficulty at Heywood Young People’s Centre is down to the inability to recruit staff with the appropriate training.

“This is a pressure seen across the board and around the country.

“The childcare sector is not valued and not well paid enough to make it worthwhile, leaving the market with a skills shortage.

“The sector is no different to the NHS and social care sectors in that regard.

“The Government are putting pressure on parents to work more hours but won’t train and fund the staff and services to allow for them to do that.

“This is a national problem that only a national Government solution will fix.”

The council say that no other activities running out of the centre are affected, and that families have been supported to find alternatives, with further support being available.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “Unfortunately we have been left with no choice other than to stop the paid-for childcare provision at Heywood Young Peoples’ Centre from the beginning of September.

“This is due to a shortage of the qualified staff needed to run the service safely.

“Multiple attempts to recruit sufficiently qualified staff have been unsuccessful, and this reflects broader recruitment challenges faced by the sector as a whole.

“No other activities running out of the centre are affected. Free play sessions, youth club and other community activities will continue.

“There are other providers in the area that provide childcare provision. Families have been supported to find alternatives and further support is available where required via the Families Information Service who can be contacted by emailing families@bolton.gov.uk.”

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