the need for accessible quality childcare

The Family and Childcare Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation have published their report: Creating an anti-poverty childcare system. The report contrasts the research evidence and policies - which say that high quality childcare improves outcomes for children - with the reality of our current system which is failing to deliver for the poorest families. The report highlights that:

  • only half of eligible two-year olds receive their entitlement to free childcare in a graduate-led setting (an important indicator of quality)
  • families in the poorest areas are the least likely to have access to flexible childcare, which restricts opportunities for parents to work or access training
  • the system of support for the cost of childcare is complicated for parents and fails to incentivise those on low incomes to work.

The report recommends:

  • investment in a more qualified early years workforce, paid in line with staff in schools who currently earn up to 68 per cent more
  • investment in local services to deliver an entitlement to flexible daycare
  • more of the state subsidies directed at service providers, as the most effective way to deliver access to high quality childcare.

Dr. Sally Smith, Chief Executive of Peeple, welcomes the report. She says:

“There is no question that better quality and more accessible and affordable childcare will directly improve child outcomes and provide the means to allow families to work their way out of poverty. Quality settings also engage effectively with parents to support them with ideas and information about how they can encourage their children’s learning and development as part of everyday life at home – because the home learning environment makes a big difference to how well children do.”

“However quality doesn’t come cheap – early years professionals need excellent training, not just in working with children but also with parents – and they need to be paid fairly. This is simply impossible with the current level of funding for childcare. If the recommendations in this excellent report are to be met, then the Government needs to move beyond its rhetoric about the importance of early years and make a serious investment in our sector.”