The Independent is reporting claims that more than 40,000 pre-school children are missing out on free childcare promised by the Government, and says the problem is set to worsen with many local authorities unable to provide enough places.
The number of local authorities in England with insufficient places for three and four year olds has more than doubled in the past year, from 23 to 59, states the report by the Family and Childcare Trust.
Some 41,300 three year olds are not getting free early education in England, and more than a third of councils are struggling to meet demand, it says.
The national shortage is jeopardising the Government’s pledge to double the free childcare to 30 hours a week, during term time, for working parents by 2017, warns the report, based on data provided by local authorities.
The issue is not confined to pre-school children. Just nine per cent of local authorities in England and Wales, and 12 per cent in Scotland, have sufficient after-school care for primary school children.
Local authorities in England and Wales are legally obliged to ensure there is sufficient childcare for working parents, under The Childcare Act 2006. Yet only 45 per cent of councils in England and 40 per cent in Wales provide enough places for parents working full-time. And in Scotland, only 13 per cent of local authorities have sufficient places…
There are “serious cracks in our childcare system,” argues the report, citing problems of finding childcare which is flexible and affordable. “Childcare funding needs comprehensive reform and the creation of a simple and efficient system that encourages quality, promotes child development, supports working parents and delivers for employers and the economy,” it concludes.
Julia Margo, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “High costs and inflexible provision remain a barrier for parents moving into work, and many children miss out – particularly those with disabilities or those living in in rural areas – or they attend poor quality provision…”
More (including a government response) at: More than 40,000 pre-school children ‘missing out on free childcare promised by the Government’
Read or download the report in full from the Family and Childcare Trust:
A doubling in the number of local authorities with insufficient pre-school places in just one year sounds a significant concern.
If you were distil the issues down, how would you explain what is going on and what most needs to change?
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