Drivers and barriers to uptake of early learning and childcare among two year olds

Research commissioned from Ipsos MORI to examine factors affecting the uptake of free early learning and childcare (ELC) for two-year-olds.

4 Profile of the research participants

4.1 Figure 1 below shows the profile of the research participants. It is important to note that this is provided to show the range of circumstances of those involved in the research and on which our findings are based - it is not a profile of the whole population. As discussed in Section 2 (Background and Methods), the sample was not intended to be statistically representative of the parents of all eligbile 2 year olds, rather it was designed to include a broad range of parents in different circumstances.

4.2 Interviews were conducted with 30 individuals, including six couples who were interviewed together, so the research involved the parents of 24 different eligible 2-year-olds. Each of the 24 symbols in Figure 1 represents one 'set' of parents (for ease, they are referred to simply as 'parents').

4.3 In addition to the characteristics shown in Figure 1, the participants in the sample lived in 12 different local authority areas [12] and four lived in rural areas.

Unaware but probably would use the provision

4.4 Eleven parents (shown in the top left quadrant) were unaware of the provision before the interview, but when they were told about it, they reacted very positively and it seemed likely that they would have used it if they had known about it.

Unaware but would not use the provision

4.5 One couple were unaware, and when told about it, indicated that they would not have used it (bottom left quadrant).

Using the provision

4.6 Eight parents were already aware of the provision, were using it [13] , and were very positive about it (top right quadrant).

Aware of the provision but not using it

4.7 Four parents were aware of it but not using it (bottom right quadrant).

4.8 It is worth noting that two of the four had not 'rejected' the provision. One was at college and had access to a childminder funded by the college (three days a week during term time). She said that when she enquired about free ELC at a council office (which she wanted to enable her to return to her part-time job), she was told by a member of staff that she was not eligible because she was already receiving free childcare from another source. It seemed to the research team that she should have been eligible and that this was a mistake or a misunderstanding.

4.9 The second participant had heard about it, but had assumed she was not eligible because of her partner's income. The household income was very close to the threshold and a proper assessment would have to be made to determine whether or not they were eligible. While it may be that they were not eligible, they would ideally have investigated it further.

4.10 A third couple in this bracket had only found out about the provision when their son was 2-and-a-half, and by that point were happy to wait until he was 3. It seemed that they might have used it if they had found out earlier.

4.11 There is therefore only one couple in the 'aware but not using' category who have clearly rejected the provision (their reasons are discussed in paragraph 5.11).

4.12 While, as noted above, the sample was not intended to be representative of all parents of eligible 2-year-olds, the lack of participants who were aware of the provision but rejected it (whether because of concerns and/or because they did not think it would be beneficial enough) reflects the difficulty we had in finding parents in this category. This does suggest that there are relatively few of them in the population.

Figure 1: Profile of the research participants

Figure 1: Profile of the research participants


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