The 2021 Childcare Sufficiency Assessment findings will be presented to cabinet members at their next meeting on Wednesday 1 December.
We know that access to high quality early years and childcare is vital to families and as a local council, we have a duty to make sure childcare across our borough meets the needs of parents and carers. Each year we carry out an assessment that looks in detail at the childcare currently available to see if there are enough places.
The key findings of the report are:
- Overall the borough has enough childcare provision to meet needs.
- There is a good mix of providers across Barnsley.
- Whilst there has been a decrease in childminding and pre-school/sessional places, the number of childcare places overall has been mostly unchanged since 2018/19. This means that there is a stable, high-quality sector which provides parents and carers with a range of options when choosing the right childcare for them.
- There are some areas of Barnsley which we are monitoring closely as there may be some pressure on places in the future, for example in the Dearne. We know that families in this area tend to access childcare in neighbouring communities.
- COVID-19 has changed the demand for and type of childcare places. Parents and carers wanted to use fewer hours or shorter days.
- Some providers have raised that the pandemic affected their financial situation and put pressure on their business.
We’ll take a number of actions following this report. We’ll continue to provide childcare settings with business support to help them manage the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll particularly focus on types of provision and particular local areas where there are pressures to make sure there are enough places. We’ll also continue to support providers by promoting empty places to parents and carers through our Families Information Service.
Importantly, we’ll plan for the impact of housing developments through the Local Plan. Looking ahead to potential increases in demand helps us make sure enough childcare places will be available. We’ll also be working with local schools, colleges, universities, and apprenticeship providers to encourage childcare as a career.
Cllr Trevor Cave, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “Our annual Childcare Sufficiency Report is vital in helping us make sure we’re meeting the needs of families and carers across the borough.
“We strive to be a learning Barnsley, and providing enough childcare is essential to help parents or carers return to work or access training to increase their skills. It’s also key that every child has the opportunity to access high quality early education for a great start in life. It lays their early development foundations for their learning journey.”
If you are seeking childcare or if you want to find out more about services for children and families, please contact our Families Information Service on 0800 0345 340 or infoFIS@barnsley.gov.uk.