29 November 2023

Wraparound childcare: what do parents want?

Wraparound childcare: what do parents want?  image
Image: Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com.

Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare, shares what must be done to make sure families can access the provision they need.

Wraparound childcare has long been the Cinderella service of childcare provision, lacking adequate funding or policy recognition. Defined as childcare that ‘wraps around’ the school day, we know that this provision is vital for giving parents greater flexibility to work and providing important extracurricular opportunities for children outside of school. Until recently, early years childcare has received greater attention and policy focus. Yet, year on year, Coram Family and Childcare’s annual Childcare Surveys have found persistent shortages in the sufficiency of wraparound provision, with only a quarter to a third of local authorities reporting enough wraparound places since 2017.

However, this year’s Spring Budget marked a promising step in the right direction. The Chancellor announced £289m in funding to support local authorities to expand wraparound childcare between 8am-6pm for all primary aged children. This investment was a welcome recognition of the need for change, and we were pleased to see this ambition to provide high-quality and sustainable wraparound childcare that meets the needs of working families.

This expansion of provision represents important opportunities, but we know it also brings significant challenges for local authorities and providers. To understand better this complex picture, Coram Family and Childcare was commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) to build greater insights into how local authorities might use this additional funding to increase the supply of wraparound provision. Our upcoming report will present what we have learnt from important discussions with a range of stakeholders, including local authorities, sector experts and parents. These conversations have provided invaluable insights into the current challenges facing wraparound provision, and what can be done to address them.

Our emerging findings reveal a number of key themes, which have all helped to inform our recommendations for next steps. For example, many local authorities told us that are significant challenges around accurately mapping supply and demand for wraparound childcare. In other words, it is currently hard to say how much wraparound provision is currently available in local areas and how many families currently want to use it – let alone what future supply and demand may be. Local authorities told us it is difficult to establish a reliable picture of family need and thus design the services that meet local demand. As the policy rolls out, it will be key that local authorities work closely with parents to understand exactly how much childcare they are likely to use and how much they are willing to pay. This will help to ensure that provision is sustainable and well-used. One local authority told us: ‘We are going to be upfront with parents about the potential cost which does need to be at a certain level.’

We also heard about concern around how the upcoming expansion, though welcome, could negatively affect the quality of wraparound provision. We know there are already major pressures around recruitment and retention right across the childcare sector at the moment, as evidenced by the Early Education and Childcare Coalition’s recent report into the early years workforce. This revealed a severe retention crisis, as low pay and limited opportunities for progression mean that skilled and passionate early years practitioners are forced to leave the sector. Local authorities have told us about the difficulties many providers are currently facing with recruiting suitable staff to deliver the entitlements, and we know this has the potential to hinder the expansion of both 30 hours childcare and wraparound provision. The regulations around school age childcare are less prescriptive than for preschool children, which could create particular risks about whether it is possible to get the right people with the right skills to fulfil the role.

Wraparound childcare also presents a unique set of challenges for recruitment because it requires practitioners who are able to work atypical patterns. One interviewee said: ‘I think the challenge is going to be finding people who actually want that kind of work, which is an hour in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, it won’t suit everybody.’ Sector experts also highlighted that those who work in wraparound childcare need to have different skills from the early years workforce and specifically, they need to be experienced in a child-centered pedagogical approach focused on play.

The challenges recruiting suitable practitioners raise concerns for the delivery of wraparound childcare for children with SEND. It is vital that the expansion of provision is inclusive for those children with additional needs, in both mainstream schools as well as in specialist schools. Interviewees noted that the high child to staff ratios at wraparound childcare do not always help with making provision accessible to children with a range of additional needs. One parent, observed from her own experience that ‘parents with children with additional needs are excluded from wraparound childcare’.

We have arrived at a crucial time for this Cinderella service. Our report seeks to shed light on what we must do to make sure that all families benefit from this renewed focus and investment in wraparound provision. Access to high-quality childcare will support more parents to work and give their children important opportunities to learn, develop and have fun with friends outside of school hours. To make the most of this vital opportunity, this expansion must pay close attention to what parents want.

Preparing for future floods image

Preparing for future floods

After Storm Henk, APSE principal advisor Rob Bailey sets out some of the steps local authorities should take to improve flood preparedness.
The Trading Standards Crisis image

The Trading Standards Crisis

John Herriman, chief executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, discusses the impact of the local government funding crisis on Trading Standards.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Assistant Prevention Practitioner

Essex County Council
£23456 - £29933 per annum + + 26 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Assistant Prevention PractitionerPermanent, Full Time£23,456 to £29,933 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Business Analyst

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£51093 - £54129 per annum
Role
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Head of Finance & Property Services (Deputy Section 151 Officer)

Bassetlaw District Council
Up to £74,377
We are looking for an innovative and positive individual Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Bassetlaw District Council

Head of Planning and Place

Bassetlaw District Council
Up to £74,377
We are looking for an innovative and positive individual Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Bassetlaw District Council

Business Support Assistant

West Northamptonshire Council
£23947
The primary objective of this role is to deliver confidential administrative assistance to the manager and team, utilizing relevant systems, protocols, and resources. This involves promptly addressing telephone and email inquiries and upholding high stand Northampton
Recuriter: West Northamptonshire Council
Linkedin Banner

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.