The Family and Childcare Trust has published a report, ‘Creating an anti-poverty childcare system’.
The report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, highlights the key role of publicly funded childcare in reducing the effects of poverty, both by improving children’s outcomes and enabling parents to work. It estimates that around one-fifth of all children and adults in the UK live in poverty, and that this number is predicted to rise significantly in the coming months in the wake of planned welfare cuts.
The organisation is calling for the Government to radically simplify the childcare funding system and gradually increase public investment in childcare to ensure all children in the UK have access to affordable, high quality childcare. The report recommends that childcare for children aged one and up be funded by a new system whereby fees would be set by an independent public body, operate on a sliding scale based on parents’ income and paid directly to providers. Under this plan no family would pay no more than 10% of their disposal income on childcare, while the poorest families would receive free childcare.
In addition, it calls for a fully qualified, graduate-led early years workforce that is paid in line with schools. For childminders, the report recommends that they be supported by graduate-led childminder networks funded by the Government. Both of these are in line with recommendations in PACEY’s recent policy paper Towards an Early Years Workforce Development Strategy for England which documents how qualifications, training and career progression are central to securing a workforce capable of delivering high quality childcare.
Liz Bayram, PACEY chief executive said:
"We know how important high quality childcare is, and the impact it has on a child’s development. Research from across the globe clearly shows that better trained and qualified childcare professionals provide better outcomes for children, especially disadvantaged ones. PACEY therefore supports the Family and Childcare Trust’s call for increased investment in the early years workforce.
"That said, the public funding environment is set to remain pretty challenging over the next five years and we have to be realistic. The Government has already made a public commitment to work in partnership with the sector to publish a workforce strategy in 2016. Many of PACEY’s recommendations in this area do not require very much additional public funding and would go a long way to supporting the early years workforce.
"As the Government rolls out plans to double the free entitlement, it is vital that children from disadvantaged backgrounds do not miss out on being able to access the high quality childcare that we know makes such a difference to them."