Grasshoppers In The Park
Parents and staff work together to provide high-quality, affordable childcare at this co-operative nursery.
At Grasshoppers nursery in Hackney, parents can reduce their fees by taking on extra tasks, such as helping in the classroom one day a week or fundraising at hours that suit them.
Grasshoppers in a co-operative nursery, or parent-led childcare co-operative, which aims to provide care at a lower cost than private nurseries. The UK has some of the most expensive childcare in the world, with one-third of families in England getting into debt to pay for childcare. Co-operative and parent-led nurseries offer parents and their children a different relationship, creating a family of families to help parents feel connected to their community.
The New Economics Foundation is working with the Family Childcare Trust to support a network of co-operative nurseries, inspired by 15 years of parent-led childcare at Grasshoppers. The network aims to facilitate formal and informal training that will help other parents get started on similar projects.
“We are learning from the Grasshoppers approach and asking parents to sign-up to be classroom helpers,” says Lucie Stephens, head of co-production at NEF. “By doing this they work alongside the childcare team and receive a free day‘s childcare for helping out.”
Luciana Talpo, manager of Grasshoppers, says: “Having parents around once a week is extremely beneficial to children and to staff.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Roll out universal basic services
Quality public services allow us all to live better lives, and should be expanded beyond health and education.
Introduce a Co-operative Economy Act
A legal framework tailored to the needs of co-operatives and supportive of their future development.
Reform and directly fund childcare
Measures will boost funding and create providers that put families before profits.
Create new sources of finance for co-ops
Create financial instruments and institutions tailored to the needs of the co-operative economy.
Create affordable workspaces
Affordable workspaces are essential to the survival of independent businesses.
Launch a Co-operative Development Agency
A network of support and capacity building to develop and extend the capabilities of the co-operative movement.