The government yesterday published the Childcare Bill in a bid to improve the wellbeing of children and reduce inequalities.
The Bill will ensure local authorities provide a better start for all children up to the age of five-years-old and to close the gap between those at risk of the poorest outcomes and the rest of the population.
“The Bill is part of our drive to create quality childcare for children up to age 14 and a Sure Start children’s centre in every community by 2010,” said Ruth Kelly, education secretary.
“This Bill confirms the vital role that local authorities will play as strategic leaders, working in partnership across all sectors to shape the delivery of early years services and the future provision of childcare, raising quality and improving outcomes for all children and parents,” she added.
Local authorities will have to provide:-
• Sufficient childcare to meet the needs of working parents with particular regard to those with disabled children or on low incomes.
• Access to a full range of information parents require for children up to the age of 20.
The Bill will also introduce a new reformed legal framework for regulation and inspection for all early years settings by 2008.
Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said: “The needs of children and their parents – fathers as well as mother – are at the heart of this legislation, with local authorities as their champions, ensuring their views are heard in the planning and delivery of services to reflect their real needs.”