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NEWS: Coram survey shows local authorities concerned about expansion roll out

New Coram Childcare Survey on the expansion of the funded scheme shows Local authorities concerned about sufficiency of places ahead of roll-out. 

Coram spoke to 92 local authorities out of 153 with 60% saying they were ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ that there will be enough places to meet demand in April 2024, compared to just 27% for the September 2024 expansion and only 12% for the September 2025 expansion. 

Whilst we know that providers are already nervous about the September 2024 expansion, it is startling to read only 27% of local authorities are ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about it. 

There is also much more uncertainty about the September 2025 expansion, 19% of local authorities saying, ‘don’t know’.  

Providers see a number of significant barriers to successful delivery of the 30 hours expansions:  

  • 88% see the local childcare workforce as a barrier or significant barrier  

  • 64% percent see ‘Sufficiency of childcare places for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND)’ and 55% see ‘Funding to support children with SEND’ as a barrier or significant barrier  

  • 58% percent see ‘Local buildings and space for childcare providers to set up or expand’ as a barrier or significant barrier  

  • Potential facilitators include ‘Willingness of providers to offer places’ and ‘IT systems to enable applications for places’, both identified by 29 percent as a facilitator or significant facilitator 

Despite this uncertainty, it seems that local authorities still expect the roll-out to have a negative impact on availability of both entitlements, with around a third of respondents expecting fewer available places overall, expecting fewer families to be able to take up their places without any charge, and expecting fewer places to be available for children with SEND. 

The findings from this survey also correlate to data in the manifesto of Dingley’s Promise. Their research reflected that 85% of settings felt the ratio changes will make it harder to support children with SEND with 92% of settings stated that they have had to fund the costs of SEND support themselves. 

Ellen Broomé, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said:  

“Whilst it is encouraging that three-fifths of local authorities feel confident about the roll-out in April, we are concerned there may be issues for families further down the line in accessing the childcare they need, as well as ongoing challenges in the sector that could impact the successful delivery of this extended support in the coming year. These issues – including the challenges around recruitment and retention, and funding rates – need to be addressed urgently, and childcare providers fully supported to manage this extension, so that every child is able to access the high quality early years education they are entitled to, and all parents can make meaningful choices about work and care.” 

Helen Donohoe, PACEY’s Chief Executive comments: 

The recruitment, development and retention of early years staff, including childminders, is fundamental to delivering the high quality early education and childcare that all children deserve. The chaotic roll out of the expansion of funded places has thrown a stark light on how the reality is far from what we need. Childminder numbers are falling off a cliff, group settings everywhere have staff gaps they can not fill. We need a long term, properly funded plan and end to sticking plaster attempts to keep our sector struggling on. 

Read Coram’s full report here.