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Positive proposals from IPPR

IPPR's latest report, No More Baby Steps - A Strategy for Revolutionising Childcare, was published yesterday.

Commenting on the publication, Liz Bayram, PACEY's Chief Executive, has said "PACEY applauds IPPR's proposals to change parental leave rights and childcare funding so all families who need or want to return to work can do so with childcare support for their 1-year-olds until they start school. We know this would make a big difference to all families who need access to affordable childcare and hope that all policy makers will consider these proposals carefully.

"We are especially pleased to see that their report recognises that integral to this childcare extension is investment in workforce quality. Children gain the most from high quality provision.

"Crucial to any extension of the free entitlement will be appropriate funding levels, so that settings can invest in qualified staff to deliver this improved offer to families. A clear childcare and early years workforce development plan, such as that set out in the Nutbrown Review, would be needed to underpin this expansion. This would help all childcare settings invest in graduates, support staff to achieve a relevant Level 3 qualification and to have clear, funded progression routes to graduate level. Without this there is a risk there may not be enough high-quality places to deliver the increased hours IPPR are proposing.

"We know that there are currently difficulties in finding good and outstanding providers to deliver the free entitlement, especially in disadvantaged areas. We also know that not all current providers, especially childminders, are being used by local authorities. The solution lies in improved funding levels, underpinned by investment in workforce development as well as stronger communication by local authorities and government, so that all families know the support available to them.

"Childcare and early learning has improved immensely in the last 10 years but we have still to overcome the challenge of ensuring families not only receive flexible, affordable childcare, but that children receive a high quality experience too. PACEY will be working with all parties in the coming months to try to ensure their manifesto commitments reflect the views and experiences of childcare professionals working with children every day."