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Publication - Research and analysis

Parents' views and use of early learning and childcare: report

Published: 7 Aug 2018

Information on parents’ and carers’ current use, future potential use, views and experiences of early learning and childcare.

58 page PDF

1.3 MB

58 page PDF

1.3 MB

Contents
Parents' views and use of early learning and childcare: report
Perceived outcomes and benefits

58 page PDF

1.3 MB

Perceived outcomes and benefits

Improving outcomes for children and parents are identified as key aims for the expansion in ELC entitlement. This includes supporting children's cognitive, social and emotional development, and enabling more parents to access work, training or study. The current study was limited in its scope to explore long-term child and parent outcomes in detail. However, the research did explore whether parents choose to use ELC for the purposes of improving the aforementioned outcomes, and whether these views are related to current ELC use.

A large majority of parents identified supporting their child's learning and development as a reason for using ELC for 3/4-year olds (78%) and 2-year olds (84%). A substantial proportion of parents also mentioned that ELC is good for their ability to help their child's learning and development at home (38% for 3/4-year olds, 45% for 2-year olds).

Enabling parents to work or look for work were also common outcomes associated with use of ELC. Two thirds (66%) of parents using ELC for a 3 or 4-year-old mentioned working or looking for work, and 16% mentioned increasing the hours they and/or their partner work. Parents were less likely to mention work as a reason for using ELC for an eligible 2-year-old; 47% of these parents mentioned working or looking for work. In contrast, those with an eligible 2-year-old were more likely than those with a 3 or 4-year-old to use ELC to provide more time for household tasks (44%) or for more time for themselves (24%).

Figure 29: Reasons for using ELC for 3 or 4-year-old

Child outcomes

Parent outcomes

Good for child's development (78%)

Good for child's learning (73%)

Good for my ability to help child's learning and development at home (38%)

To work or look for work (66%)

Increase hours I/my partner works (16%)

More time for household tasks (15%)

More time to look after other children (13%)

Study or improve work skills (10%)

More time for ourselves (8%)

Care for another relative or friend (2%)

Figure 30: Reasons for using ELC for eligible 2-year-old

Child outcomes

Parent outcomes

Good for child's learning (84%)

Good for child's development (79%)

Good for my ability to help child's learning and development at home (45%)

To work or look for work (47%)

More time for household tasks (44%)

Study or improve work skills (26%)

More time for ourselves (24%)

More time to look after other children (14%)

Increase hours I/my partner works (11%)

Care for another relative or friend (10%)

Qualitative feedback also highlighted a range of perceived benefits to parents and children associated with the use of ELC.

Enabling parents to work appeared to be a key factor for most interview participants. It was notable that many of the difficulties or concerns experienced by parents – for example flexibility of hours, accessibility – were raised in the context of using ELC to enable them to work.

In addition to work, parents also emphasised the extent to which ELC provides them with more time for other parts of their lives – including caring for other children, household tasks and time for themselves. These parents felt that use of ELC has in this way improved quality of life for their family, and in some cases had a positive impact on their own mental health. This included examples where parents had felt under significant pressure balancing work and childcare before their child was eligible for funded ELC.

Parent K lives in a remote rural area, with an eligible 2-year-old and 10-month-old twins. ELC has provided significant benefits for the 2-year old's social and cognitive development – an experience that would not have been available without funding. The opportunity to interact with peers has been vital – "she has come on leaps and bounds, and [the nursery] has helped her at home too with interacting with other kids."

Parents were clear in their view that ELC had a positive impact on their child's development – both social and cognitive. Contact with peers was highlighted as a significant positive in their social development, and in preparing children for school. This aspect of ELC was identified as a particular positive for some parents of children with ASN (for example through contact with their peers and their key worker) and for siblings at home who gain time and space for themselves.

Parents also referred to positives around communication from providers. This included online diaries and other examples of providers keeping parents informed, and examples of parents using feedback from providers to support their child's learning and development at home. Some parents did not have access to these facilities, but nevertheless highlighted the importance of relationships with staff and feeling able to raise issues or queries.

As mentioned previously, parents identified the ability to work/look for work and support for their child's learning and development as the most common reasons for current and likely future use of ELC. For parents who would expect to use all or almost all of the expanded 1140 hours, more than three quarters (79%) would do so to work or look for work, and around a third to increase the hours they or their partner work (32%). More than half would use the expanded entitlement for their child's development (61%) or wellbeing (53%).

Figure 31: Reasons that parents would use full 1140 hours (with eligible children)

Figure 31: Reasons that parents would use full 1140 hours (with eligible children)

Note: Parents could select multiple options.

Views and experiences across parent groups

The research identified some significant variation across parent groups in the reasons that influence parents use of ELC.

This variation primarily related to income, deprivation, whether parents pay for ELC and whether parents use funded ELC. For example lower income households, those in the most deprived areas and single earners were more likely to mention studying or improving work skills, and having more time to look after other children or household tasks as reasons for using ELC. In contrast, those who pay for ELC and parents who do not use funded ELC were more likely to use ELC to work or increase their hours of work.

Below we summarise the main variations across parent groups, highlighting where parents were significantly more or less likely than those in other parent groups to give a specific response.

Low incomes/Most deprived areas

More likely to use ELC to study or improve work skills, and to provide more time to look after other children or household tasks.

Less likely to use ELC to work.

Rural areas

No significant variation.

Single earner households

More likely to use ELC to study or improve work skills, and to provide more time to look after other children or household tasks.

Less likely to use ELC to work.

Parents of children with ASN

More likely to use ELC for their child's learning and development.

Less likely to use ELC to work.

Currently pay for ELC

More likely than others to use ELC to work or to increase their hours of work.

Less likely to use ELC to have more time for household tasks or for their child's learning and development.

Do not currently use funded ELC

More likely than others to use ELC to work or to increase their hours of work.

Less likely to use ELC to have more time for household tasks or for their child's learning and development.

Other significant differences

Parent age: Under 35s are more likely to use ELC to study/improve work skills and to have more time to look after other children. They are less likely to use ELC to work.

Parent gender: No significant variation.


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