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The Government should enhance parental leave for dads and consider the potential adverse impact on equality of offering 30 free hours to children in working families, according to a report by The Sutton Trust.
The report on early education and childcare says neither of the Government’s two flagship childcare policies – the tax-free childcare scheme nor the 30 hour entitlement for working families – are well-designed to promote social mobility and will mean longer hours in state-funded early education for children who are already relatively advantaged, which may be expected to widen gaps in child development at school starting age.
The report puts especial emphasis on the quality of care being offered and calls for more training of staff. It says too many parents are missing out on targeted places for disadvantaged two year olds and that many of the available places for two year olds are not in the highest quality settings. The report also highlights cuts to financial support for parents, including the narrowing of the tax credit system and the freeze on working-age benefits, which are predicted to lead to sharp increases in child poverty in the next five years.