Janice Peggs is a social entrepreneur, policy reformer and successful campaigner for better childcare provision in York and nationally. In the late 1980s Janice resigned her well-paid management post with London Transport and moved back to York with her young son, Joseph, because she could not find suitable or secure childcare in the capital. As a single parent in York, however, she found a similar situation to the one which she had left: a shortage of childcare places and long-waiting lists, a situation soon exacerbated when the only three Social Services day nurseries in North Yorkshire were closed due to budgets cuts. This meant all subsidised nursery places were lost at a stroke, and were replaced, not on a like for like basis, with Family Centres. The only other childcare option for parents was a high-cost private nursery.
With Rebecca Stott and Pat Cooper, Janice started the York Childcare Campaign to highlight the impact of these closures on families and employers, and to campaign for affordable nurseries, whilst undertaking an in-depth analysis of the issue. Her analysis would prove crucial. Janice not only identified a gap between provision, but also devised a new model for childcare – a community-based workplace nursery offering contracted places to local employers, who were encouraged to subsidise their employees, and a proportion of subsidised places to low income and/or lone parents. The Social Services Directorate agreed that the idea was feasible, but that it needed developing, and so the first partnership – comprising professionals from the public and private sector, training establishments, voluntary organisations and potential users – was founded. Janice convened the first steering group meeting, acted as treasurer, and attracted national interest in her concept.
In 1990 York Childcare Ltd was incorporated and the first nursery, named Joseph’s, opened in 1991. At the same time, she was studying social policy at York University and she used the partnership management model for her dissertation. Partnerships of this kind are still promoted as the way forward in most policy initiatives, and nurseries like Joseph’s operate throughout the UK. Joseph’s day nursery is still based in Rawcliffe Holt Pavilion, off Rawcliffe Lane, and York Childcare runs several other nurseries across the city. As Janice wrote in 1996:
‘A society which invests in its children will inherit a bountiful return’.
City Archives at York Explore, ref YCL 1987-2012, including correspondence, company information, minutes and annual reports, press articles and project write-up by Janice for York University.
Image credit: Janice and Joseph, 1990 ©Yorkshire Evening Press