Subsidy levels for child care for disabled children under fire

Imposing a £30 cap on the subsidy to child care providers
taking part in the pan-London Childcare Affordability Programme
will discriminate against disabled children, campaigners have

Speaking at the annual Sure Start children’s centre
conference, Sophie Ugle, a nurse and a single mother of a child
with learning difficulties, said the limited subsidy would make
“no difference at all for children with

The affordability programme, announced in December in the
government’s 10-year child care strategy, is a pilot set to
go live in the autumn to provide 10,000 affordable child care
places over three years for lower income families in London by
subsidising locally approved providers.

However, London Development Agency senior child care manager
Denise Freeland told the conference the subsidy to providers
– calculated according to the difference between £175
per week and the actual cost of the child care place – would
be capped at £30 per week.

Ugle insisted the sums on offer were totally inadequate and that
children with disabilities and their families had been forced to
wait too long for proper support. “The child care strategy
has failed our families and failed our children miserably,”
she said.

Francine Bates, chief executive of disability charity Contact a
Family, said research indicated that suitable child care for
children with disabilities cost double that of child care for other

Freeland promised that the issue of services for children with
disabilities and special educational needs would be looked at as
part of a series of smaller pilots to be launched in April 2006
under the wider affordability programme.

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