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As the school summer holidays begin, 4Children, the national charity for families, is releasing new research which shows how thin on the ground holiday childcare really is. 4Children’s own analysis of official figures has revealed that there are just 450,000 places in holiday clubs or with childminders available to the 6.8million children aged four and 14-years-old. This equates to one place for every 15 children.
The lack of supply is also illustrated by figures released earlier in the year by the Department for Education which show just 15-20% of primary schools offer childcare outside term time.
This shortfall in places presents particular challenges for families where both parents are in work and also for single parents who work. Around a quarter of these families pay for a childminder or a place at a holiday club and another quarter of families rely on family and friends to look after their children while they are working. But the other half of these families have no childcare support. It is unclear how they are arranging childcare over the school summer holidays which means up to 1.9million children may be left unsupervised.
Commenting on the figures, Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said:
Few jobs fit with school hours and school terms and many parents find the long summer holidays a particular childcare challenge. With meticulous planning, some parents are able to organise a combination of childcare to cover the school summer holidays using childminders, holiday clubs, annual leave and family and friends to babysit. But these are simply not options for all parents who may live a long way from their family or who cannot secure any childcare place, let alone an affordable one.
We are calling for schools to to step in to help support local parents by keeping their doors open when formal term time finishes next week. Some schools provide great holiday playschemes for their community and we want all schools to do so if they can.”
All political parties are promising to require schools to extend their hours in their election manifestos but these figures show the scale of the change that needs to take place. Promises for the future will also offer little comfort for parents struggling this summer, many of whom will need to take time off work or rely on family and friends to provide the childcare needed.
We are yet to see any of the main political parties come forward with a specific proposal for supporting parents with holiday childcare. 4Children is calling for a universal childcare guarantee. As such we will be pressing all parties to tackle this issue head on and come forward with practical measures to ease the intense strain placed on parents at this time year in year out.”
Children is calling for a universal childcare guarantee for 0-14 year olds. The guarantee would include:
• Schools keep their buildings open during the summer school holidays to provide the childcare that working parents need.
• Access to affordable, high quality childcare from the end of parental leave until school – building on current free entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds
• Guarantee of 8-6pm ‘wraparound’ childcare for four to 14-year-olds in and around schools, including during holidays
• New childcare hubs co-ordinating childcare in every area to offer parents flexible childcare at the times needed