Dads: please take part in the childcare inquiry

11 January 2023

The UK Parliament’s Education Select Committee has launched an inquiry into childcare affordability and early years education in England.

We want fathers to make their mark on this inquiry – to send a clear message that high quality, affordable childcare is NOT just a “women’s issue”…it affects ALL parents.

Here’s a link to the inquiry submission page.

Below, we’ve set out the inquiry’s questions, and provided notes that could help you write your submission. You could copy and paste all this into a Word file, write your answer (using our prompts or not – it’s up to you!), and then once you’ve finished, submit your file via this link. If you’re a father, please explain that in your submission!

The deadline is tight – midnight on Thursday 19 January, and your maximum word count is 3,000 – but even if you can say what you want in a much shorter space, please do!

Section 1: Childcare entitlements 

  1. How affordable and easy to understand is the current provision of childcare in England and what steps, if any, could be taken to improve it, especially in relation to families living within the most deprived areas in England? 

Things you could talk about here:

  • Have you or your partner had to take a lower paying job or had to leave your job altogether, because paying for childcare is so expensive? Have you got into debt, used a foodbank or had to make serious financial decisions as a result?
  • Are you unable to use formal childcare provision, because it’s too expensive or just not available?
  • Have you taken on an additional job, or longer working hours, so your household can afford to pay for childcare, enabling your partner to stay in work?
  • Has the cost or impossibility of affording childcare resulted in you spending less time with your child/ren – because you’ve had to work longer hours?
  • As a father, have you directly received information about how the childcare system works, to help you and your partner make decisions about who will do what? If not, would you find/have found this useful?
  • Does your family you use tax free childcare? If not, why? If yes, what would you like to change?
  • Does your family have issues accessing the 30 hours ‘free’ scheme?

2. Are the current entitlements providing parents/carers with sufficient childcare, and to what extent are childcare costs affecting parents/carers from returning to work full-time?

  • You could talk about how childcare costs, including any subsidies you are entitled to, have affected you and your partner’s working commitments.
  • The 30 hours free scheme does not start until the term after your child turns three. How has this impacted you and/or your partner’s ability to work the hours you would like to (whether longer or shorter)?
  • Do you feel like the 30 hours free scheme provides enough financial assistance for you and your partner to be able to work the hours you each want to?
  • Does your nursery charge top up fees for the 30 hours free scheme? What impact does this have?
  • If your partner took maternity leave, how big an effect did childcare costs and/or availability have on HER and YOUR choices around going back to/ staying in/ committing to more/ different paid work?

3. Whether the current Tax-Free Childcare scheme, and support for childcare from the benefits and tax credit system, is working effectively or whether these subsidies could be better used within other childcare subsidies 

  • Do you believe the current system enables you to take up all of the childcare that you need?
  • Do you believe the Government should do more to subsidise childcare from the point that parental leave ends?
  • Do you feel that the tax free childcare system needs reform?
  • Can you access the 15 hours of ‘free’ childcare for 2 year olds? If so, do you think this is working?

Section 2: Early years provision

4. What challenges do early years providers face in terms of workforce, including recruiting, and retaining qualified staff, and the barriers faced by individuals joining the profession? To what extent has the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated workforce challenges?  

  • Has a setting that your child attends had trouble recruiting staff?
  • Has your nursery had to close at short notice for full days due to a lack of staff?
  • Has your child’s key-worker left? Do you know why?
  • Has your local provider closed? Are you struggling to find another provider?

5. Whether the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) system is meeting the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN), and the improvements that could be made to better support young children with SEN within early years provisions 

  • Do you have a child with SEN? Do you feel that you are able to access high quality and affordable childcare for your child? What are the specific challenges that you encounter?

6. To what extent does the early years system adequately prepare young children for their transition into primary education, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds

  • You could make a note here about how important it is that staff are valued by paying them better and giving them opportunities for progression as this has an impact on your child’s education.
  • You could mention the lack of men in early years roles (overall the early years workforce is just 3% male, with many settings having no male staff at all: here’s a link to the MITEY (Men In The Early Years) website for more background information), and the lost opportunity this represents for showing children that caregiving and education are roles for everyone, regardless of gender.

7. The extent to which the reduction of Sure Start Children’s Centres has affected children and families, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the role of Family Hubs

  • Perhaps you have experience of Sure Start and/or Family Hubs, and/or can draw on the experience of others within your family and friendship group.
  • Are there particular services or approaches that you feel should be available and are not, in your area?
  • Are you aware of any support for fathers in your area? Is this, or would this be, useful?
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