Councils have warned that the extension of free childcare could put quality and availability of services at risk, a new survey has revealed.
Research by the Family and Childcare Trust found the government's policy of offering 30 hours of free childcare to 3-4 year olds is likely to reduce quality of care and make it harder to provide care for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Only a third of local authorities surveyed said they had enough childcare available for 3-4 year olds using the 30 hour offer, while 44% said the extension would reduce the financial sustainability of some childcare providers.
Ellen Broomé, deputy chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust said: 'We know that only high quality childcare helps boost poorer children’s learning. And while working parents are pleased to receive more hours of free childcare, they are not willing to cut corners on childcare quality.
'As this policy rolls out, the Government must make sure that all families are able to access the high quality, affordable childcare that they need.'
However, the survey did show that more than half of local authorities thought the extra free childcare would help improve collaboration between settings.