Study spells out dangers for strategy

More than 600,000 child care places have been created in England
since the National Childcare Strategy was launched in 1998 but
their long-term sustainability is in danger, according to a new

The National Audit Office report finds that 300,000 places closed
in the same period and that half of the providers of new places did
not know what they would do when government start-up funding

It identifies a range of threats to the long-term future of the new
provision, including high staff turnover, competition from other
providers and the burden of administration.

Many providers fail to cover their outgoings and significant
numbers lack sufficient understanding of costs to judge their
viability, it warns. And while the Department for Education and
Skills is aiming for further growth in the sector until 2006, few
providers are planning to expand.

Providers cite a need for bigger premises as the main barrier to
expansion. The limited size of the workforce is also highlighted as
a block on development.

NAOhead John Bourn called for more training, especially for
childminders, and more support for providers to help their

Stephen Burke, director of child care charity Daycare Trust,
said:”Sustainable services are crucial. Many providers don’t know
where their next funds are coming from. Currently one child care
place closes for every two that open.”

The report also finds that a postcode lottery still exists in child
care, with the number of places for pre-school children varying
between 11 per cent and 58 per cent.

– Early Years: Progress in Developing High Quality Childcare
and Early Education Accessible to All

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