Local authorities (LAs) are struggling to provide sufficient funded childcare places for disadvantaged two-year-olds, according to a new report by the Department for Education (DfE).

The report reveals that 44% of LAs that responded to a DfE survey said they had experienced difficulties in providing 15 hours per week of funded childcare for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

According to the report, 38% of LAs said that the introduction of the 30-hour funded childcare policy had caused difficulties for the implementation of the entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The research found that a key factor is that places for three and four-year-olds are cheaper to provide than those for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

Of the councils surveyed, 16% reported that they found early years providers unwilling to offer funded places to eligible two-year-olds. Other problems include eligible parents not wanting or needing childcare for their two-year-old child and a lack of funding for publicity and infrastructure development.

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“This report makes clear that the Government is failing some of our most disadvantaged children. Everyone agrees that the early years is a vital in ensuring children get the best start in life — but this report shows that children from low-income families, who stand to benefit most from childcare, can’t rely on the Government to ensure they’re able to access it.

“The fact is that ministers were warned repeatedly that providers would struggle to deliver childcare for younger children following the roll-out of 30 hours. They chose to ignore those warnings and continue to do so; this study is just the latest to underline the wider impact that frozen and falling funding levels are having, not only providers but also on the children they are able to work with.”

The full report is available here.

Last reviewed 7 January 2019