Families face out-of-school childcare shortage

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More than six in ten parents have had to change their working arrangements once their children start school, according to a new survey.

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Research by the Family and Childcare Trust reveals that parents across the country face widespread shortages in childcare for school-age children.

The joint survey with Netmums found that 40 per cent of parents of five- to 11-year-olds found it difficult to find childcare for their children once they start school at the beginning and the end of the school day.

Sixty-three per cent of parents have had to change the way they work to cope with childcare problems when their children started school, with 12 per cent forced to leave their jobs.

There are also widespread variations in the cost of childcare within regions, which means that families who live in the same area canbe hit by vastly different costs for childcare.

The research also draws on data from the Family and Childcare Trust’s annual surveys of childcare costs and holiday childcare and new analysis of local authority childcare sufficiency assessments.

Local authorities in England and Wales are required under the Childcare Act 2006 to ensure sufficient childcare for working parents, but there is no legal duty in Scotland.

This reveals that of the 240 local authorities across England, Wales and Scotland (including London Boroughs):

  • Sixty-eight (28.3 per cent) did not have sufficient childcare for five to 11 year olds;
  • Seventy-eight (32.5 per cent) had no idea if they had sufficient childcare for this group.
  • Ninety-four (39.1 per cent) reported that they had sufficient childcare.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the trust, said, ‘For many working parents hoping that their childcare struggle ends when their children start school, this damning research shows that unfortunately the opposite is true. Far too many parents face a never-ending battle to secure affordable, quality childcare just so that they can go to work to provide for their families.

‘The system needs a complete overhaul, but in the meantime local authorities must, with the support of government, implement action plans to tackle the severe lack of childcare for school age children.’