Our Cabinet members have been given an update on the findings of the Barnsley 2022 childcare sufficiency assessment at their meeting this morning.
A childcare sufficiency assessment (CSA) is a report about the amount of childcare in the borough. It maps the demand and supply of childcare.
Under the Childcare Act 2006, we have a legal duty to make sure that we have enough childcare available in Barnsley. This is so we meet demand and parents can work or get back into training.
Barnsley’s CSA was produced from information gathered from providers in the summer term of 2022.
Members were informed that the number of early years registered providers in Barnsley is 199, which is the same amount as last year, and the school-based early years provision also still stands at 55, which is also equal to last year. Therefore, there are a total of 247 providers of early years places in the borough.
Although the number of providers has stayed the same, the number of places offered by those providers has reduced from 6,132 places to 5,573 places. As a result, the number of childcare places available for children aged up to four years old has reduced across all areas, with the Dearne and the North having the lowest; but the North East has seen the greatest reduction.
Encouragingly, the number of schools now delivering 30 hours of childcare has increased to over 50 per cent.
The take up rate of two-year-old funding is 75 per cent, which is three per cent above the national average and the take up of three- and four-year-old funding is 93 per cent, which is also three per cent above the national average.
The report says that parents are finding the cost of childcare very challenging, but 35 per cent of respondents are not accessing any support towards the costs.
Parents are reporting that finding childcare to meet their needs is becoming increasingly difficult, although they are managing this through flexible working options and grandparents helping with care.
There is still a good mixture of childcare across the borough and there are several vacancies to support those looking for childcare, however, the places will not always be the preferred choice and may include having to travel to access the place.
There is a need to create further places, particularly places that meet the needs of the new businesses that are setting up in the borough and that require employees to work more flexibly.
The report details plans to investigate ways in which the council can further support providers to sustain their provision during this cost of living crisis, which is leading to a rise in costs to run the business such as energy bills, as well as continuing to impress on DfE the need for national support.
We will also work with the childcare already in place to increase capacity and encourage the setup of new providers, including childminders across the borough, with emphasis on those wards that do not currently have provision. This includes Dodworth, Stairfoot and Darfield.
The setup of new nursery places and expansion of places and hours of existing provision including schools in the Dearne will also be encouraged.
Trevor Cave, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: "Our early years settings remain among the very best in the country as judged by Ofsted and we know that good quality early years education has a positive long-term impact on outcomes and the life chances of children.
“The sustainability of the sector is not only crucial in enabling young children to obtain a good start in life and show a good level of development at an early stage as part of improving life chances and social mobility, sufficient childcare places are also imperative in ensuring parents remain economically active.”
The Childcare sufficiency report can be read in full here: barnsley.gov.uk/services/children-families-and-education/childcare-nurseries-and-family-support/childcare-sufficiency/.
If you need support finding childcare, our Families Information Service can help. Visit barnsley.gov.uk/services/children-families-and-education/families-information-service/ or give the team a call on 0800 0345 340.