Report of the Head of Education and Learning (CS/20/17), presenting the Annual Childcare Sufficiency Report, attached.
(Councillors Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst and Hannaford attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Education and Learning (CS/20/17), presenting the Annual Childcare Sufficiency Report, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Authority had a statutory duty to secure sufficient, accessible, affordable, high quality early years and childcare places and Sufficiency was met through a variety of providers that included all types of schools, pre-schools, day nurseries, holiday clubs, breakfast clubs, after school clubs, childminders, etc.
The Early Education and Childcare: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities, set out that the Authority should report annually on how they were meeting their duty. This was the eighth Childcare Sufficiency Assessment Annual report.
The Childcare Sufficiency Annual Report 2019/20 (Appendix 1), encapsulated key findings from data from 1 April 2019 to 31 August 2020 and actions for the Early Years and Childcare Service for 2020/21. The Report also included data and observations collected from 1 April to 31 August 2020 at the height of restrictions enforced on the childcare sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data analysis indicated that overall, there was sufficient early years and childcare provision within Devon. Although the rural/urban spread of different types of provision varied, Childcare Sufficiency Hot Spots had been identified. However, there continued to be increased and improved communication with providers through social media platforms.
In terms of proposals for next year, the Early Years and Childcare Service proposed to change the reporting period to the academic year (September 2020 to August 2021), introduce a new termly survey of providers to ensure the service had regular, up to date information on the supply of childcare and introduce a new termly survey of parents to capture demand as parents’ circumstances changed.
A number of actions arose from the report which were outlined in full in paragraph 6.1. These included continuing to assess sufficiency and identify hot spots and support providers to open or expand their businesses where appropriate. It also included carrying out a termly survey of providers, to continue the data review of out of school provision, support providers through Early Years ONE Devon to become good or outstanding and work with providers to build greater flexibility and affordability. Parents would be surveyed to gain a greater insight into the demand for childcare where there was insufficient provision and the use of data from the Council’s Economy team to help inform demand for childcare as working patterns changed. Other actions included promoting the ‘unable to find childcare form’ to parents as a way of feeding back to the Council, promotion of childminding as a career, work with the School Place Planning Team, review the Golden Ticket process with a view to sending a single Golden Ticket to all parents on the Department for Work and Pensions list, promote the take-up of the Early Years Pupil Premium and promote Free School Meals in nursery classes.
The actions arising from the Childcare Sufficiency Report contributed to the promotion of equality of opportunity and the Report considered accessibility and affordability of childcare for all families and included consideration of disabled children, families on low incomes and parents working irregular hours. Early years and childcare provisions were registered and inspected by Ofsted and inspections would assess the extent to which the provider complied with all legal duties including those set out in the Equality Act 2010. The actions identified for the coming year were a continuation of the ongoing work of the Early Years and Childcare service in promoting equality of opportunity for all families through the provision of accessible, affordable, high quality childcare.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor McInnes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
RESOLVED that the Annual Childcare Sufficiency Report be welcomed and endorsed and that arrangements be made for the Report to be published on the Council’s website.