Workingmums.co.uk speaks to Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare, about the current state of childcare in England.
Workingmums.co.uk spoke to Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare, about their annual report on the state of childcare in England.
workingmums.co.uk: The report shows childcare places have stayed more or less stable, but many childcare providers have closed, particularly childminders. Are certain types of provider doing better out of the situation, for instance, chains which can offset losses in some areas with gains in others?
EB: We don’t have this information. Our report does not look at individual providers, it is a survey of local authorities. But the loss of childminders – who often provide more flexible, cheaper childcare, for younger children – is concerning.
Wms: Where do you see the particular pinchpoints, the areas that may not recover after Covid – care for children with disabilities, out of hours care – given there seems to be an expectation of no change in childcare sufficiency in the next year?
EB: Wraparound childcare for working parents – breakfast and after school provision and holiday childcare – as well as childcare for disabled children will continue to be difficult. These types of provision have been hardest hit by the pandemic and changing working patterns and may take longer to recover – especially as demand for childcare remains below pre-pandemic levels, in part perhaps due to the current financial uncertainty and worries about jobs and taking on childcare costs.
Wms: What more needs to be done to promote free childcare for two year olds?
EB: The Government put in significant funding over a long period of time to increase the take-up of the two-year-old offer, and we know the very real benefits for children, so it is really disappointing to see the decreases in take-up. Coram Family and Childcare’s runs the National Network of Parent Champions, which is a proven and effective method of increasing take-up. You can see more here: The Parent Champions National Network | Family and Childcare Trust
Wms: Should the tax-free childcare scheme be scrapped?
EB: We are asking for the underspend from the tax free childcare scheme to be diverted back into the childcare system and targeted at supporting low income families.
Wms: Can employers do more to help, for instance, with upfront childcare payments as the Greater London Authority has done?
EB: Our survey doesn’t look at this. But employers play an important role in supporting parents (and other staff) with caring responsibilities, including implementing family friendly policies and creating an inclusive culture.