Labour calls for more investment in childcare

The Labour party says parents are being put in ‘an impossible situation’ with calls to return to the office coming as the summer holidays begin with no extra investment from government in childcare.

Childcare

 

The Labour party has claimed that the Government is ‘penalising parents’ by announcing a return to the office at the start of the holiday period when many parents have no childcare support.

The party has called for additional funding for the childcare sector to prevent nursery closures and to invest in summer holiday programmes.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said: “We all want society to get moving again, but it requires a clear plan and national leadership from the government. Despite ordering millions of parents back to the office, the Prime Minister has refused to provide any extra help for families, penalising parents by putting them in an impossible position.

“Parents got a back-to-work notice on Friday just as the summer holidays began. But they got no support for structured activities, no summer catch-up schemes, and no support for a childcare sector on its knees.”

His call came after the Children’s Commissioner for England warned that many nurseries are at risk of closure and demanded an overhaul of the country’s childcare system.

Anne Longfield’s report, ‘Best Beginnings’, is an in-depth examination of early years provision in England. It describes a system that is disjointed and often failing to target those disadvantaged children with development problems who most need early help.

The report says too many children, particularly those growing up in disadvantaged families, are already behind by the time they start formal education.

The report sets out how starting school behind can undermine children’s life chances. It shows children in England who had not met the expected level on half of their early learning goals at age five are five times as likely to end up being excluded by age 10, three times more likely to be struggling with reading at age 11 and four times more likely to be struggling with writing at age 11.

Recent research also shows these children are more likely to leave school with no GCSEs, more likely to suffer some form of mental ill health and more likely to be obese.

The Children’s Commissioner is calling for a new ‘Best Beginnings’ early years investment plan, ranging from Children and Family hubs to midwives and health visitors, to tackle these problems at the beginning of a child’s life rather than waiting until crises develop in later years.

The Children’s Commissioner makes a number of recommendations including:

  • An emergency recovery package for the childcare providers whose finances have been worst affected by Covid-19.
  • An expanded offer of 30 hours free childcare and early education for all children aged two, three and four, and 15 free hours for all one-year-olds.
  • A cross-government ‘Best Beginnings’ strategy led by a Cabinet Minister for the Early Years.
  • A Family Guarantee of support for under-fives and their families delivered by health visitors, early help and Troubled
  • Families workers, family nurses or family support workers based in Family Hubs.
  • A national infrastructure of Children and Family Hubs.
  • A Government review of early education and childcare funding to ensure it is working as effectively as possible to help children and families who need it most.
  • A single system for supporting families with early years education and childcare, with fees charged in relation to families’ incomes.
  • A national workforce strategy for the early years, focusing on staffing across existing health, local government and early years settings.
  • Better sharing of data between different services, so children who need help do not fall through the gaps or go unidentified.

Anne Longfield said: “The Government must make the early years a priority and drive reforms so that all children start school ready and able to learn and progress. Alongside high-quality early education, this means making sure that every family is guaranteed the support they need to help their young child to thrive, and to prevent early challenges turning into serious problems.”



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