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30-hours policy is a "car crash," according to new report

By Rachel Lawler
 
baby 30 hours childcare
The 30-hours policy is “entrenching inequality rather than closing the gap”, according to a new report from the Education Select Committee.
 
The report, Tackling disadvantage in the early years, says that the current policy is putting financial pressure on settings, giving more advantaged children more quality care and impacting the availability of childcare places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.
 
The report says that the Committee has been told that the 30-hours policy is a “car crash”. It says: “The government should reduce the earnings cap for 30-hours childcare and use the extra funding to provide early education for disadvantaged children.”
 
The report also calls on the government to develop a workforce strategy for the early years “at the earliest opportunity” and called for research into interventions designed to support parents, to avoid wasting money on ineffective programmes.
 
Closing the gap
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “While the government talks a good game when it comes to ‘closing the gap’ and supporting the life chances of children from poorer backgrounds, the fact is that many of its flagship childcare policies do the exact opposite.
 
“Research has shown that a lack of adequate funding for the 30-hours policy has resulted in councils scaling back, if not scrapping, early years schemes aimed at disadvantaged children, while many providers struggling to stay afloat have been forced to prioritise places for families willing and able to pay for ‘optional extras’ over and above those seeking wholly ‘free’ places.
 
“Add to this the fact that children’s centres appear to have been all but abandoned by ministers, and it’s clear that the Committee is completely justified in saying that the government’s approach to the early years is ‘entrenching disadvantage’.
 
“If the government is truly committed to tackling disadvantage in the early years, it needs to reflect on the findings of this report, take a wholesale review of its current approach to childcare policy and ensure that it is delivering practical support to children, families and providers, and not just empty rhetoric.”
 
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