Under half of parents think the number of childcare places that are available in their area is about right, according to a new survey.
The survey for the Department for Education found only round two in five (42%) parents in 2017 felt the number of local childcare places was ‘about right’ – a fall from 2014-15 (46%). One in five (21%) parents reported problems with finding childcare flexible enough to meet their needs while 37% indicated they did not have problems.
The survey also showed a fall in the use of informal childcare by parents and an increase in those using formal childcare. Overall, in 2017, 79% of families in England with children aged 0 to 14 had used some form of childcare during their most recent term-time week. This equated to 4.4 million families or 6.3 million children. Formal childcare was used by 66% of families, up from 63% in 2010-11. This was due to increased use of breakfast clubs, after-school
clubs and day nurseries. Informal childcare was used by 36% of families, down from 40% in 2014-15 due to lower take-up among families with school-age children.
Parents were divided about the affordability of childcare. Two in five (39%) parents in 2017 rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly good, while 34% rated it as very or fairly poor. These proportions were in line with those
recorded in 2014-15.
Just over half (52%) of parents who paid for childcare said it was easy or very easy to meet their childcare costs, with one in five (21%) finding it difficult or very difficult.
On the 30 hours provision for parents of three and four year olds, parents intending to use it were asked whether the
additional hours would lead them to change their working patterns. Just over two in five (42%) expected to
make a change (or changes), including almost a third (31%) who said they would try to work more hours per week and 12% who said they would try to work on more days per week. Parents working part time were more likely than those working full time to say they would change their working patterns (58% said they would make a change, compared to 24% of those working full time).
Among parents working part time, almost half (48%) said they would try to work more hours per week (compared to only 12% of parents working full time), and two in five (41%) said they would try to work on fewer days per week
(compared to only 3% of parents working full time). Almost half (47%) of non-working parents with a 3- or 4-year-old felt it was likely that they would try to find paid work to become eligible for the additional free hours. Among parents whose partner was not in work, a similar proportion (48%) felt it likely their partner would try and find paid work to become eligible for the additional free hours.