[Report of the Director of Children's Services. To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Children and Families.]
This paper presents Haringey’s third Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA), a statutory duty, providing an overview of the 2019 exercise and highlighting key findings. This report seeks approval from Cabinet for the proposed Childcare Action Plan, 2019-2023 which addresses the key findings from the CSA and identifies areas for action.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Families introduced this report which provided an overview of the many issues related to provision of childcare in Haringey.
The Cabinet Member highlighted the Childcare Act 2006 placed a duty on the Council to ensure there is enough childcare within its area for working parents. Childcare was a service which straddled many different themes- early education; social and emotional support for children and families; early intervention; help for working parents or those seeking employment. As such it was an issue which was important in delivering many priorities within the Borough Plan.
The Cabinet Member noted this childcare sufficiency assessment (CSA) makes plain the complexity supporting the childcare market, where the Council acts as a commissioner, broker and enabler, supporting a wide diversity of providers in a competitive market environment. Government policy in this area imposed many roles on local authorities, and this Childcare Sufficiency Assessment highlighted key areas of development needed to ensure childcare places were taken up, especially by those who were hardest to reach and yet have the free entitlement.
The Cabinet Member informed the CSA sets out many challenges for the local authority, amongst which was the need to support providers in remaining sustainable and viable in a very volatile market. The report highlighted key areas of work and issues raised during this assessment which were at paragraph 6.3. These confirm the cross departmental nature of childcare provision, covering employment support, social regeneration, early intervention and prevention, health and well-being, family support as well as the critical and central issue of early childhood education. It follows that to achieve the goal of supporting providers in delivering childcare, a high level of inter-departmental and multi-agency working was necessary.
The reason for the recommendation is that a decision to approve the proposed Childcare Action Plan, 2019-2022, will ensure that the Council is fulfilling its statutory duty, under the Childcare Act 2006.
The proposed Childcare Action Plan, 2019-2022, provides a framework for action which should ensure that the Council is proactively addressing some of the key issues and challenges currently having an impact on the accessibility and sufficiency of childcare provision for 0-14 years olds and those aged up to 18 years of age if they have a disability. The implementation of an approved Childcare Action Plan underlines the Council’s role as market manager and a drive to continually improve the sufficiency of and the access to childcare across the borough.
A further reason for the recommendation lies in the fact that the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA) has identified the need for focused work to address sustainability within the childcare market, to tackle barriers in access to, and the affordability of, childcare, to develop plans for future childcare demand in areas of economic growth and to maximise participation in the free early education entitlements. Having a robust Childcare Action Plan in place will enable the Council to further enhance work currently being undertaken with internal and external partners, to bridge gaps in childcare, support parents’ childcare needs, support providers to deliver sustainable childcare and improve support to children with special educational needs.
Alternative options considered
The requirement to complete a CSA and produce an Action plan is part of the statutory requirement placed on the Council by the Childcare Act 2006. There are no alternative options to consider.