Carly from Essex is a single mum with three children - two boys aged 7 and 6 as well as a little girl, aged almost 2. She has been out of work for eight years since becoming pregnant with her oldest son, but she is determined to get off benefits and find work she enjoys doing. This is her story:
How did you feel about finding childcare for your daughter?
Experiences with previous partners have left me with difficulties trusting people, so thinking about putting my little one into childcare was tough at first. But getting my children settled will help give me head space to find a job I want to do. We have just moved to a new area and the older boys are really happy in their new school. Luckily, they have a nursery attached, so I’m hoping my daughter will start there in the new term.
You discovered that your daughter was eligible for up to 15 hours per week of government funded childcare in England. How significant was this for you?
I wouldn’t have been able to put her in a nursery without the funding for 2 year olds in England.
Having my little one in nursery will give me time to look for a job or find out what the next steps are to return to studying. I’ve always wanted to be a midwife, and recently, I’ve thought about being a phlebotomist or a pharmacist. But I’ve no idea how to get there, so hopefully, my job coach can help me figure that out. It’s good to have the space to be able to imagine a different future. I couldn’t have done this a couple of years ago or even a few months ago, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without the funding.
I don’t want to be on benefits for the rest of my life, it’s important that my children see me doing something. I’m always saying to them, ‘work hard at school and you’ll be able to get a good job’. I want to show them that’s true. And that all starts with finding some confidence.
How did you find out about the funding?
When I went to the Work Club at my children’s centre, I thought “I can either sit at the back quietly and let other people talk, or I can speak up”. I decided to ask the questions I needed to know the answers to and that’s when I found out I was eligible for the 2-year-old funding.
It’s good that you can use the funding in lots of different childcare places.
What was important for you when choosing childcare for your daughter?
Choosing the nursery attached to the school was important to me for a smooth transition to full-time school and having the children all in one place, as they have had a lot of upheaval so far in their lives. It is also important that my children feel safe there. I talked to a couple of other mums at the school whose children started at the nursery and they were happy with it. I also went to have a look around and got a good feeling.
Any advice for parents who would like to begin their journey into work?
If you are in a similar position to me, I would say, take it one step at a time. This has come at the right time for me, I am ready, but you might not quite be there yet. And then, when you are ready, go to the meetings at your JobCentre and children’s centre and ask questions. There are people who want to help. Accept the help. Find out what you need to do for the future you want.