New research from Levelling the Playing Field campaign

The second reading of the Childcare Bill is taking place on Wednesday 25th November with the government proposing to double the free childcare offer for 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week.

However, new research published today by Contact a Family, The Council for Disabled Children, The Family and Childcare Trust and Mencap shows that 40 per cent of families with young disabled children are not accessing the full current free childcare offer of 15 hours a week – well above the 4 per cent of families with non disabled children.

To coincide with the second reading of the Childcare Bill, an e-action has been launched aimed at getting MPs to highlight the childcare problems for disabled children and call on the government to commit to funding the extra costs of childcare for disabled children.

You can write to your MP here. It really quick and easy to do and includes a template letter. We are also concerned that the government plans to partly off-set tax credits cuts with the 30 hour offer will further disadvantage families with disabled children if urgent action isn't taken to tackle the childcare problems for disabled children.

The new research, Levelling the playing field: Equal access to childcare for disabled children: One year update, also shows of those who are not accessing the free childcare offer:

  • 38% said it was because they did not think the childcare provider could care for their child safely 
  • 30% did not think the childcare provider had adequately trained staff
  • A quarter said that the nursery or child-carer refused a place or excluded their child because of their disability or special education needs.

And of those whose child was refused a childcare place or excluded:

  • Nearly half (49%) said the childcare provider could not meet their child’s additional needs
  • 47% said their child needs, 1:1 care or other additional support which was not available or affordable

I have been discouraged by many of the attitudes that I have encountered while trying to find suitable childcare for Fintan. He has been rejected outright by certain childcare providers as soon as his additional needs were mentioned. Others have been unable to seek funding for the 1:1 care Fintan requires.

I currently pay for a full time nanny for my children rather than take up the government’s offer of 15 hours free childcare per week due to a lack of suitable facilities in my local area... I am deeply saddened by the fact that many other parents of children with additional needs will be kept out of work due to lack of access to viable and affordable childcare facilities. No attempt has been made to address the glaring gap in provision of wraparound care and pre-school care for disabled children such as Fintan.

Siobhan Bain from Southwark is mum to 3 year old Fintan who has a variety of undiagnosed disorders and global development delay