Most disadvantaged children least likely to take up funded places 

A report published today by the Department for Education (DfE) concludes that the most disadvantaged children are the least likely to take up a funded place, particularly in London.

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The report lists all issues associated with take up of funded places for eligible two-year-olds as well as the universal offer (15 hours) and additional hours (30 hours) for three and four-year-olds in England.

For providers, these are to do with cost of delivering and funding. The report says that evidence from providers shows that two- year-old places are less “financially lucrative” due to higher staffing ratios, the need for more space and higher needs for children who are eligible.

For parents, some believe they don’t need childcare as they don’t work and aren’t aware of the benefits of early years education. Others are unable to access places due to additional charges and travel costs, with some confused about eligibility.

There is a lower take up for children with SEND and those who have English as an additional language.

Jonathan Broadbery, NDNA’s Head of Policy and External Relations, said: “The Government’s own findings now show that those who most need funded places are less likely to be accessing them, especially in London. At the same time, the Impact Study on Early Education has further underlined how beneficial early years education is for all children, but particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Research with our members shows that more than half make a loss on funded places for two-year olds and this jumps to almost 90% for the three and four year olds. Sadly, this means nurseries are limiting these places because many just cannot afford to offer them at such a loss. Many nurseries and other childcare providers will object to this report stating that providing two-year-old places is ‘less financially lucrative’ for them, when in reality, funding shortfalls mean that many are struggling to remain viable.

“The funded childcare policy won’t be able to fulfil its aim of improving children’s outcomes if it is not properly resourced. With a fair and sustainable rate, more providers would be able to offer funded places, especially to those who need them most. If this Government is genuine in its concern for social mobility, it should take urgent action to address this lower level of take-up among disadvantaged families.” 

Read the full report here.