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The National Childcare Strategy

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The National Childcare Strategy was launched in May 1998, with the publication of a Green Paper, 'Meeting the Childcare Challenge'. The aim is to have a range of good quality, affordable childcare for children aged 0-14, and up to age 16 for children with special needs, in every neighbourhood, including out of school childcare for a million children across UK, by 2003. The Strategy is founded on a commitment to promoting the well-being of children, offering equal opportunities for parents, especially women and to supporting parents in balancing work and family life.

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      10.11.2000 01:15
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      What is the National Childcare Strategy? ***See update at the bottom*** National Childcare Strategy was devised by the Labour Government as part of their National Regeneration Strategy and to introduce 'Opportunity for all' The National Childcare Strategy is made up of various initiatives to give children the best start in life, aid those parents that want to seek employment or training the opportunity to do so, and help parents/carers to provide a safe stimulating environment for their children to be raised in. It was recognised that there was no point in investing money to give people the opportunity to return to work or education, if there wasn't enough childcare available in the first place. One of the main initiatives was to set up 'Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships' (EYDCP) within each county. The overall objectives of these partnerships is to 1) Increase the number of childcare and education places, and 2) Improve the quality of the childcare provided. The implications of these two objectives are huge which is why the government has invested millions in EYDCPs. Each partnership has representatives from everyone involved with childcare or education, this includes, Education depts, Social Services, Health depts, pre-schools, nurseries, childminders, and more importantly parents and so on. The idea is that each partnership is well balanced and everyone is represented ensuring that what is needed by the sector (most importantly parents) is delivered in the best way for the good of children and their families. (you too will have a representative) Each partnership has to provide the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) with an EYDCP plan, which outlines what they are planning to do with the money they have. This is a public document which you can obtain from your Childrens Information Service. Before a plan can be written the partnersh
      ip carries out a 'Childcare Audit 9; that involves consulting with parents, children, and the childcare providers on their views in regards to childcare. If you have any opinions or views on childcare or education in your local area you should contact the EYDCP (if you don't have their information you can e-mail me). This procedure of devising a plan from consultation is a prime example of the governments 'bottom-up thinking'. The plan would include planned projects, strategies and so on, and has to be approved by DfEE. **** Increasing Childcare/Early Education places **** To help EYDCPs increase childcare places (also known as capacity building) additional money is available from various sources for example, Childcare Allocation Grant and the New Opportunites Fund (NOF). NOF has £220 million to invest in Out of School Clubs and activities. Money can be used to provide an out of school activity. This money will normally fund all of the Out of Schools outgoings for one year. Two other sources of funding have recently become available, 'Childminder Start-Up Grant', 'Recruitment Campaign' and 'Neighbourhood Nurseries'. The Childminder Start-Up Grant enables partnerships to grant money to new childminders for equipment and alterations to their property. In some areas this is means tested. Although the average grant differs across the country it should be around £350. The Recruitment Campaign is money that's been granted to EYDCPs to aid them in the recruitment of childcare workers. This may include employing development workers to develop their local childcare industry and advertising etc. The Neighbourhood Day Nursery initiative is awarded to local authorities, that have wards in their area that fall in the 20% of most deprived wards in the country. This is could be worth around £1,000,000. **** Quality Childcare ****
      Some EYDCPs have allocated money into all s orts of projects to improve the quality of childcare. These projects normally include free childcare related training to those that work with children and Quality Assurance schemes (there are many more diverse projects being carried out). EYDCPs also have development workers whose job it is to give help and advice to childcare providers, with quality in mind. Each EYDCP has gone about this in their own way which is why there are a lot of different projects and initiatives across the country. **** Now what **** Now that there is a greater variety and number of good quality childcare/early education places available, funding is available for all 4 year olds to attend childcare/early education. This funding means that all 4 year old children can have free childcare sessions. Funding for free 3 year old sessions is also available so that 3 year olds can also attend childcare, but, the amount of money that funds free places varies across the country. In some areas all 3 years olds can be funded whereas in other areas only a small number can be funded. The amount of money that each area gets is dependent on how deprived the area is (in accordance with the DETR indices of deprivation), although Gordon Brown has announced that there will be a free place for everything 3 year old by 2004. **** Other Initiatives **** Surestart I've listed this on it's own as it's worth a lot of money. Surestart aims to provide good quality experiences for children from birth to four years. This does include childcare but also includes every service that is available for these children and their families. Parents are the first educators and a childs most important source of love, care and self-esteem, therefore it is important to support parents/carers. This can be done by providing displays, classes/advice centres, somewhere they can share experiences, provide one-stop-shops of heal
      th (speech therapy etc). Surestart is able to o ffer experiences for children that perhaps they currently don't get, and enable children to learn and grow up safely with positive experiences. Surestart areas could receive funding for upto 10 years. This might mean that a Surestart area could attract £1 million worth of funding per year with £1 million for capital in the first. Surestart areas are chosen after an application process and according to the level of deprivation (according to the DETR deprivation indices). These are very small and are often a lot smaller than Ward level. Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) I won't go into much detail as there is already one very good opinion on WFTC but basically, if you work more than 16 hours a week you may be eligible. This is not a benefit so you don't need to go to the post office. If you are eligable the Inland Revenue has an arrangment with your employer, basically increasing the tax code which means more money. I have heard stories of couples earning £35000 between them and still getting some tax credit. This may not be the case but it's worth giving the Inland Revenue a call. There is also an element in it called Childcare Tax Credit that will go towards childcare fees. **** Summary **** This is the first time that early years has had recognition and is seeing billions of pounds being invested. There is an incredible amount of good work being carried out, and if you are involved in the sector and not benefiting contact someone below. **** Useful contacts **** EYDCP contact details are on www.childcarelink.org.uk Surestart: www.surestart.gov.uk DETR: www.detr.gov.uk DfEE: www.dfee.gov.uk WFTC Helpline: 0845 609 5000 www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk New Opportunities Fund: www.nof.org.uk If you have any other queries I will be happy to answer them. I
      will continue to update this opinion on a regular ba sis, as this is changing all the time, and it would takes days to write a comprehensive review in one go. ~~~ Update July 2003 ~~~ How things have changed. Investment continues in the early years, and builds on the success of the previous 5 years. *** Support for 5-13 *** There is now a pot of money to support families 5-13 called Children's Fund. This is a pot of money that can be used to support families with children 5-13 years. Each area has access to this funding and has the opportunity to meet the needs of local families, and can be locally driven. *** Support for 13-19 years *** Connexions follows on from Children's Fund and supports young people aged 13-19. This service offers support in the form of personal advisors that are able to assist young people on all matters from sexual health, to training and finding work. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This now means that there is support for families with children of all ages (area specific); 0-5 Surestart 5-13 Childrens Fund 13-19 Connexions

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