Parent survey: funded childcare not supporting families equally

The DfE has released the results of its biennial childcare and early years survey of parents, which gives a range of statistics including for funded childcare places.Parent and child

NDNA says that these stats show that the funded entitlement is not working for lower income families.

Among the many stats in the report are:

  • Maternal employment is up to 70% from 68% in the 2016 survey and 19% found it difficult to find childcare.
  • Average number of hours a pre-school child spends in childcare has gone up from 17 to 18 per week      
  • 63% of children in least deprived areas attend nursery compared to 44% in most deprived
  • 84% said that 30 hours had prepared their child better for school – improved communications skills 62%, numeracy 53% literacy 49%
  • Only 27% were aware of Tax-Free Childcare
  • 29% said there weren’t enough childcare places; 22% reported difficulties in finding places
  • 76% of children 0 – 5 use a digital device at home

Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA’s Director of Quality and Training, said: “Although this report shows positive parental feedback towards funded childcare, it’s a grave concern that government policy is not supporting children from low income families equally.

“Fewer children from deprived areas and in families on lower incomes attend nursery. And yet 84% of parents interviewed said that the 30 hours had prepared their child better for school, with positive outcomes for communications, numeracy and literacy skills.

“We know that early support can give children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the best chance of fulfilling their potential. Take up of two-year-old funded hours is still very low (72%) compared with the three-year-old offer, when research tells us that this is the best place to start to have the biggest impact.  

“Government must make the funded entitlement available to children who most need it. The majority of nurseries are forced to charge parents for extras which some parents just cannot afford. Providers need to be paid adequately so these hours are actually free to parents as well as meeting the full cost of delivery. Nurseries cannot go on absorbing huge shortfalls and limiting both two-year-old and 30 hours places to remain sustainable. 

“Awareness of Tax-Free Childcare needs much more work especially now that the voucher scheme is closed to new entrants – only 27% of parents are aware which is appalling. These stats are even lower for lone parent families. Low take up could also be linked to the financial gap between coming off benefits and receiving TFC.”

Read the full report here