Horsforth children who attended an after-school club which unexpectedly closed down will not have to leave, thanks to two couples from the town.
Sunflowers Childcare, who were based at Tiny Toes Play Centre in the town, announced their liquidation on Friday, March 10. But Tiny Toes owners Pete and Clare Zanetti have stepped in to continue providing after-school care at the facility, with the help of Nick and Charli Walker.
The soft play centre has been operating for five years, with Sunflowers hiring the space as a separate company to offer after-school care for the past two and a half years.
The surprise announcement led Mr and Mrs Zanetti to the decision to provide their own service to prevent parents having no childcare after school.
Mr Zanetti said: “On the Thursday, Sunflowers was open as normal, but on the Friday it was closed.
“There were 72 kids needing after-school care – the door opened up for us to provide that. Clare worked non-stop to ensure we were able to do that.”
Tiny Toes’ application for an Ofsted licence to provide after-school care for more than two hours has been approved – meaning that the current service operating between 3.15 and 5.15pm can be extended.
“There was mass panic at the news,” Mr Zanetti added. “We’re continuing to provide after-school care as a message to the parents. It’s different people behind the scenes, but the environment for the children will be the same.
“It’s not about money-making – we’re actually losing profit at the moment. But we’re taking the hit short-term to protect the kids.”
Mr Walker outlined the importance of not disrupting the children, despite the change in after-school care provider.
He said: “Tiny Toes has a really good reputation, Pete and Clare do such a good job here, and it keeps the children in the natural environment they’re used to. It’s important to keep the setting the same so we don’t disrupt the children.”
Tiny Toes are also keen to deliver services to help parents, as well as care for children.
Mrs Zanetti said: “We want to offer services for parents to access here, rather than needing to go to children’s centres to access them. We want to be able to help them, as well as the children.”
Mr Walker optimised the importance of ensuring the children visiting Tiny Toes continue to be provided with quality care.
“The aim is to provide somewhere for children to relax after they’ve been at school,” he added. “They can be leaving their home at seven in the morning sometimes when their parents are going to work, and not be getting back until six, half six at night.
“It’s a long day for adults, never mind for children.”
Tiny Toes also offers a number of free classes and support groups, and is located just off Town Street in Horsforth town centre.
Efforts were made to contact Sunflowers Childcare for their reaction but they declined to comment.