Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Making play inclusive

Parks for Play half term playscheme starts today
With the total number of places for holiday childcare continuing to fall, prices for childcare continuing to rise, what has become of the government's attempts to make childcare more available and affordable?  And what of our most vulnerable children facing social exclusion because of their individual needs, often disability, or their families in desperate need of support, particularly during holidays?

In Birmingham at least, Parks for Play continues to address some of this need, running fully inclusive after-school playcare and playschemes during holidays.  However this appears to be the only only service of it's kind across the UK, despite the government recognising that families without good access to childcare are less able to remain in work.

Nine out of 10 local authorities in England are now unable to meet demand for holiday club spaces.  The situation for disabled children couldn't really be any worse with the Family Childcare Trust finding this summer that:
'...parents with disabled children are severely affected, with 88% of local authorities in England and all in Wales unable to meet demand for holiday childcare for disabled children.'
The Local Government Association suggests:
“Work also continues with private and independent providers to encourage them to offer more affordable schemes. There is no legal obligation at all for councils to provide their own holiday childcare and the duty placed on them to ensure there is sufficient childcare available states ‘only as far as is practicable’.”
While councils are only required to to find sufficient childcare, 'only as far as is practicable', and private and independent providers appear unable or unwilling to provide cost effective childcare, how do organisations like Parks for Play continue to operate so successfully?

The answer is in some ways simple, as it is a 'grass roots' organisation, able to operate on a small scale, with considerable effort of individuals and occasional funding opportunities, but its sustainablity is questionable.  And why, given it's success, aren't lessons being learnt across the UK?

For more about Parks for Play events, see their facebook page.

Previous articles about Parks 4 Play:

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