Schools should pick up the shortfall of holiday childcare places

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Charity 4Children is calling for schools to remain open during the summer to provide much needed holiday childcare.

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4Children says that schools should open their doors to children in the summer

New research released by the charity reveals there are just 450,000 available places in holiday clubs or with childminders for the 6.8 million children aged four to 14, who are about to finish school for the summer. This equates to one place for every 15 children.

The lack of holiday childcare places was also illustrated by figures released earlier in the year by the Department for Education, says 4Children, which showed that just 15-20 per cent of primary schools offer childcare outside term-time.

The charity warns that the shortfall in places presents a particular challenge for families where both parents are in work, and also for single parents who work.

Its analysis shows that around a quarter of these families pay for a childminder or a place at a holiday club, another quarter rely on family and friends to provide care, the other half of these families have no childcare support. This could potentially mean up to 1.9 million children will be left unsupervised.

In light of this, 4Children is reiterating its call for a universal childcare guarantee for children up to the age of 14. This would include a guarantee of 8am-6pm ‘wrap-a-round’ childcare in and around schools, including during the summer holidays. it also wants new childcare hubs to co-ordinate childcare.

 Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said, ‘Few jobs fit with school hours and school terms and many parents find the long summer holidays a particular childcare challenge. With meticulous planning, some parents are able to organise a combination of childcare to cover the school summer holidays using childminders, holiday clubs, annual leave and family and friends to babysit. But these are simply not options for all parents who may live a long way from their family or who cannot secure any childcare place, let alone an affordable one.

‘We are calling for schools to step in to help support local parents by keeping their doors open when formal term time finishes next week.  Some schools provide great holiday playschemes for their community and we want all schools to do so if they can.

'All political parties are promising to make it a requirement for schools to extend their hours in their election manifestos, but these figures show the scale of the change that needs to take place. 

‘We are yet to see any of the main political parties come forward with a specific proposal for supporting parents with holiday childcare.’