Parents’ finances ‘could endanger out of school care’

Parents are changing their work patterns or allowing children to walk home alone to avoid paying after school fees, according to a survey.

Parents are changing their work patterns or allowing children to walk home alone to avoid paying after school fees, according to a survey.

The 4Children survey – the first national survey of after school care - reveals that, although the vast majority of providers of out of school childcare are not reliant on funding from their local authority or school, after school activities are typically financed directly by parents paying to use the services and recent falls in family incomes have sparked new fears for the future of these vital services. 

The survey found that 66% of providers said falls in parental income and ability to pay was their biggest concern for the year ahead.
 
4Children is calling on central and local government to encourage more parents to access the financial support available to them via the childcare element of the tax credit system, which it says has "a disappointingly low take-up rate by families with older children". The charity is also urging government to ensure that sufficient support is provided to meet childcare costs when the Universal Credit is introduced in the future.  Survey responses from out of school childcare providers.

Another major threat to out of school childcare, highlighted by the survey, was providers’ difficulty in meeting soaring operational costs. 4Children says anecdotal evidence shows that changes in local charging policy and the move of schools to Academy status have in some cases resulted in unprecedented increases in running costs for childcare providers, such as being charged rent to use school buildings out of school hours, for the first time. The charity is cautioning local authorities and schools against passing on inflated costs to struggling childcare schemes whose services are already seriously at risk. 

The 4Children survey found that 50% of providers said rising costs was their biggest concern for the year ahead

The survey shows that, when asked about their biggest concerns for the year ahead:
– 66% of providers said falls in parental income and ability to pay
– 50% said rising costs
– 26% said reduced priority for out of school activities
– 19% said reductions in funding
– 10% said changes to the way education is organized locally with more academies and free schools 
 
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children, said:  “The good news is that out of school childcare has not suffered from local budget cuts as much as some may have feared – in large part due to the fact that so few were in receipt of public funds in the first place. However, this research should sound alarm bells over the risk that falling parental incomes combined with soaring operational costs are presenting to providers. 

“Out of school childcare provides crucial support to hundreds of thousands of parents and important opportunities for older children. We urge local authorities and schools to think twice before hiking up running costs, such as rent, and carefully consider the wider impact on parents who rely on out of school childcare to allow them to work.” 





Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *