Sixty Second Interview with Anne Longfield
By Maria Ahmed
Anne Longfield is chief executive of charity 4Children that has called on the government to give more support to childcare providers and parents.
Why do you think the government has failed to make childcare a priority?
Childcare is increasingly a priority. It’s just that it has a long way to go. Traditionally childcare has been seen as a private matter – for parents rather than broader society. That position has begun to change over recent years, as we acknowledge that we all benefit if children have the best start and parents are able to work too. The fact that we now have a Minister for Children and Young People is significant yet, roots are still shallow and more long-term commitment from government is needed. Beverley Hughes’ position needs to be at cabinet level and more ongoing investment needs to be made available.
What do you see as the main flaws in the childcare system, and how do they impact on children and parents?
Good quality childcare is still too expensive for many parents and childcare workers are still paid too little – often to keep costs down. More assistance is needed from government to ensure childcare is sustainable and affordable.
What improvements would better childcare bring to the lives of children and parents?
Greater access to childcare would offer opportunities for children to learn and develop in warm and trusted environment at times that also enable parents to work. This is crucial to children’s development in the early years but also essential as children move through school and need access to safe and stimulating places to play and develop. Parents need consistent and reliable childcare to move into and extend their employment – important for all working parents but crucial for lone parents and those living in poverty.
How can childcare be made more affordable?
4Children believes that government need to double expenditure on early years and childcare to £13 billion over the next five years to offer ongoing funds to childcare providers. Parents pay around 70% of childcare costs in this country compared to as little as 20% of costs in Scandinavia.
What government action on childcare are you calling for?
More investment, to ensure long-term sustainability, affordability and quality and a Minister for Children, Young People and Families at Cabinet level for starters.