The Daycare Trust’s Annual Conference reveals interesting statistics for working parents

I spent an interesting day on Wednesday at the Daycare Trust’s annual conference in the Commonwealth Club.  As well as providing an excellent opportunity to network with peers from the childcare industry, the day provided thought provoking discussions and presentations from expert speakers.

The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Truss MP who outlined the Government’s Early Years priorities and offered an interesting comparison between the UK and other European countries. Some interesting statistics were shared.  For example, the UK puts £6 billion a year into childcare, which is twice the OECD average, and yet only 66% of mothers work, compared to 83% in Denmark. Half of those not working would like to but are prevented due the lack of affordable, convenient, high quality childcare.

Childcare vouchers go a long way in enabling many parents to work, but such statistics demonstrate how much more could be done, such as extending the availability of the vouchers, or increasing the tax free limits.

The keynote address was followed by short presentations from, Helen Penn (Professor of Early Childhood), Lucy Lee (Head of Education at Policy Exchange) and Iain McMath from the CVPA.  Helen pointed out that the UK is nearly alone in Europe in supporting a business model for childcare, rather than providing greater state subsidies. Lucy identified two convincing arguments why the Government should be involved in the provision of childcare, firstly because of the effect on child development, particularly for disadvantaged children and secondly, because of the effect on maternal employment. She concluded that all systems should be simplified and readily accessible and suggested that tax credits should be administered through the closed loop system of childcare vouchers.

Iain McMath suggested that childcare vouchers should be extended to the self-employed and for employed parents there should be the right to request access to the scheme. The chief Executive of the Daycare Trust picked up this point and suggested that it go further, and employers should be obliged to offer the scheme.

The afternoon’s sessions covered an evaluation of the revised EYFS framework, engaging parents in the community and the extension of 3-4 year old free places to disadvantaged two year olds.

All in all a compelling and illuminating day and I look forward to next year!

Author: Laura Czapiewski | Category: Blog | 06/12/2012 | 0

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