Downham Market mother hits out over childcare shortage

Juana Kurzke and son Raphael, 5, who faces moving or giving up job because of a lackof childcare. ANL-140313-091340001
Juana Kurzke and son Raphael, 5, who faces moving or giving up job because of a lackof childcare. ANL-140313-091340001
Have your say

Demand for good schools and too many new homes being built is leaving parents with a severe lack of childcare options in Downham, according to a single working mum.

Juana Kurzke faces moving out of the town or giving up her teaching assistant job in Lynn because she is unable to find any before or after school care for her son Raphael, five.

Norfolk County Council officials say they were not aware of any problem in the town, but will now look into it.

But the 40 year old, of Rush Meadow Crescent, has been looking for childcare for more than three months to no avail and is now appealing for a childminder to come forward and help.

Raphael used to attend the Kids Korner out of school club at Downham’s former Clackclose Primary School, but it closed at Christmas shortly before the school became the Nelson Academy.

The Academy has a breakfast club starting at 8am, but it means Miss Kurzke is late for work every morning, with nothing after school.

There are suitable before and after school options available at other schools, such as Hillcrest Primary in Downham and Wimbotsham Primary, but Raphael has been refused a place as they are both full to capacity.

Miss Kurzke said: “It’s frustrating as there is before and after school care in the town but it is attached to other schools. I have tried to move Raphael to another school but the Norfolk told me they are full up.

“The problem is there have been too many new homes built in Downham without a new primary school.

“And although it’s controversial, there is more demand for Hillcrest as it has a ‘good’ Ofsted, whereas the Nelson Academy is in special measures.”

Miss Kurzke’s mother Charlotte currently has to drive from Southery every day to pick Raphael up from school and take him home, but at 73 years old she is finding it quite stressful and tiring.

“If I can’t find something soon, we’re either going to have to move home or I’ll have to give up my job,” said Miss Kurzke.

“The Government wants single parents to work, but how can I if there is no childcare available?”

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said the authority had not been made aware of a lack of childcare provision in the town, but said it was difficult to sustain breakfast or after school clubs if numbers were low.

He said: “Our Family Information Service will look into this and if we find that there is a need to stimulate new provision in that area then we will do that.

“The demand for school places in the Downham Market area is rising for primary school children and we are mindful of current housing developments and plans are being developed to alleviate any potential pressure in the future.

“It is worth stressing that there are still school places available in the Downham Market area at present so local families can be offered places in a local school.

“However, with the exercise of parental preference a number of schools in the area are over-subscribed.

“Mrs Kurzke expressed preferences for three schools in the wider area but we were unable to accept these as there were no places available at preferred schools.

“She has a right to appeal against these refusals and has the right to her case being considered by an independent appeals panel if that is her wish.”