Lack of wraparound childcare impacts parents of SEN children more

A new survey by Koru Kids finds lack of wraparound childcare is limiting the hours they can work and their career progression, with nearly half saying the impact has been significant.

Mum and son walking to school


Parents of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) find it harder to secure appropriate wraparound childcare, spend more money on it and are more likely to see their career or pay significantly impacted due to a lack of wraparound childcare than parents of children without SEN, according to research by childcare provider Koru Kids.

Over three-quarters (78%) of parents in the UK whose children have SEN use before or after-school childcare at least once a week and over a third (34%) use it daily, compared to two-thirds (63%) and one in five (20%) of parents whose children do not have SEN.

However, the research shows that over half (55%) of SEN parents don’t have enough wraparound childcare support for their children. Over a third (38%) say it’s harder to find appropriate care in their area, and almost half (45%) say it’s more expensive. As a result, one in five (19%) are forced to use care that doesn’t meet their child’s needs, and a third (33%) have to have their children at home with them while they work.

81% of parents of children with SEN have seen their career progression or pay suffer as a result of needing to manage childcare with work, and two in five (41%) say the impact has been significant.

The effects are felt by families whose children do not have SEN too, especially mothers. Three-quarters (74%) of mothers believe their career progression or pay has been negatively impacted and a quarter of parents (27%) feel it’s suffered significantly.

The financial impacts hit mothers harder, too. 21% of mums, compared to 14% of dads, say their wraparound childcare costs are increasing faster than their salary and 12% of mothers, compared to 8% of fathers, say they will have to leave their current job to get a pay rise. This is on top of the findings that SEN parents already spend an average of 9% more each month on childcare than parents of children without SEN (£165.59 vs. £151.65).

Parents of both SEN and non-SEN children say they would work more if wraparound childcare provision were improved. For almost a third of parents (29%) they have issues accessing the wraparound care that they need: either it is full, or their school doesn’t offer wraparound care at all. Almost three-quarters (71%) of parents of children with SEN and two-thirds (61%) of non-SEN parents say they would be able to work more hours if there was better availability of after-school care for their children.

The North East is the area in the UK with the worst provision of wraparound childcare, with a quarter of parents (24%) saying there is no after school care available to them. Newcastle (23%), Edinburgh (26%), and Glasgow (39%) are the cities with the lowest provision of childcare. East Anglia is the area in the UK with the longest waiting lists for after school care, as one in five (19%) parents say they are unable to access the care that their child’s school offers because it is full. Cambridge (19%), Bristol (21%), and Sheffield (19%) are the cities in which parent say their schools childcare is most full or has a waiting list.

Rachel Carrell, founder of Koru Kids, said: “Parents need childcare that is flexible and that can be tailored to their requirements. The proposals for 8-6pm care, in school, will leave behind those families that already have it the hardest; those who work shifts, travel long commutes, have children with SEN – or without SEN but who don’t want to be in school all day! Rather than starting with child wellbeing and mental health, the focus has clearly been on finding the cheapest possible solution.

“What’s especially frustrating is that we have thousands of childcare providers on our books, willing and able to work flexibly, but it’s far too hard for families to use childcare funding to pay for them. Families should be able to use Universal Credit for part-time childcare help, but the system is so rigid and expensive for carers to set up, it prevents them from doing so. The world has changed, families’ needs have changed, yet the systems are still in the Stone Age.”


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