The government will fail to meet its goals on reducing child poverty and getting more parents back to work unless it invests more in childcare, the Daycare Trust has warned.
In a new report published today to coincide with its annual conference, the childcare charity insists that decisions made in next year’s Comprehensive Spending Review on levels of funding for 2008 to 2011 will be crucial to whether the government can deliver on its 10-year childcare strategy.
“Unless adequate progress is made and sufficient funds committed to childcare, this could stand in the way of the government achieving these other ambitions [on employment and child poverty levels],” the Daycare Trust warns.
The charity’s report says that, despite the progress made on childcare since 1997, questions remain around the sustainability of services and whether enough has been done to ensure quality childcare for all parents who need it and for all children who can benefit from it.
In particular, the report highlights concerns about subsidy levels, funding for the supply of free places, proposed changes to staff-to-child ratios and staff qualification requirements.
“The government is in danger of setting its sights too low by requiring only half of [childcare] staff to be qualified at level 2 when the target appears to already have been achieved,” it argues.
It adds that the Transformation Fund, set up to help drive up quality in early years settings, could be being undermined by its relatively short-term funding – due to end in August 2008.
“So far, the fund is underspent and work is underway to discover the reasons for this,” the report says. “But there are early indications that the lack of certainty about the future of the Transformation Fund may be undermining its objectives.”
Contact the author: Lauren Revans