The government’s strategy of expanding pre-school care for
three to five-year-olds is endorsed by the Institute for
Education’s study confirming its value to children’s
cognitive and social development – especially disadvantaged
Yet the biggest obstacle to building a child care workforce
capable of meeting the government’s agenda is the pay and
conditions staff are expected to accept. The extra money needed
cannot be left for parents to find. Despite tax and benefit
incentives, the cost of child care is still prohibitive to many.
Government plans to increase investment in early years services to
£1.5bn by 2005-6 and to concentrate the funding in
disadvantaged neighbourhoods through Sure Start and
Children’s Centres are right. But if the strategy is to
succeed the government must confront labour market realities. All
the recruitment campaigns in the world will fail if the jobs on
offer do not pay a wage that reflects the skill required.