Childcare Sufficiency - Parent Survey

Closed 21 Jul 2017

Opened 14 Jun 2017

Results Updated 18 Dec 2017

1. Based on the number and nature of comments, concern over the cost of childcare, fees charged by providers and a lack of support to meet the cost of childcare is the most common issue parents experience.
You said…
“Childcare is good but really expensive, £1200/month is not affordable for a lot of families, and adding house prices will be a problem in the future.”
“If we had help with childcare i would return to work at least 20 hours a week which would make a big difference to us and help me finish my course in work a lot quicker”
“I really think childcare below 5 is seriously underfunded.”
We say…
This year with the introduction of the National Funding Formula most childcare providers have seen an increase of 20% in what they receive for the 3 & 4 year old funding.  
Paying for childcare can account for a large chunk of family income. However, there are ways of getting some financial help if you use a registered childcare provider.
The following may be able to help financially.
  • Tax Credits
    If you are eligible, you might be able to qualify for the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. You need to be using registered or approved childcare and if you are - the childcare element can help with up to 70% of your eligible childcare costs per week, up to a set limit. The actual amount you get will depend on your income. The lower your income, the more tax credits you can get. For more information visit:
  • Childcare Vouchers
    Some employers offer their staff childcare vouchers via "salary sacrifice". You won’t pay tax or National Insurance contributions on the first proportion, so you could save a significant amount each year. Childcare voucher companies administer the scheme on behalf of your employer, and will ensure that the payments are made correctly to your childcarer. HM Revenue and Customs has an online calculator which can help you calculate whether you would be better off using childcare vouchers. For more information visit:

  • Tax-free childcare
    Tax-free childcare (TFC) is a new government initiative designed to help working families afford childcare. The scheme will launch in 2017 and will offer eligible families 20 per cent support towards the cost of their childcare. Operated through an online account, parents will pay money towards qualifying childcare costs and the government will automatically make "top-up" payments of 20p for every 80p that families pay in. Tax-free childcare is expected to replace the use of childcare vouchers and make it easier for more families to access the financial support. More information on how to apply will be released by the Government soon.
  • Free education places
    All 3 and 4-year-olds in England and some 2-year-olds are entitled to free early education sessions. This is usually taken as 15 hours of free early education per week for 38 weeks of the year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their 5th birthday). This is known as the free early years entitlement. The offer for 3 and 4 year olds is being doubled from 15 hours to 30 hours a week for working families from September 2017. For more information on the current offer visit our website at:
Reading Borough Council also provides information on childcare costs and which setting offer the Free education places on its Reading Services Guide (RSG) website.
The Family Information Service is also available to help and advise parents on finding suitable childcare. 
2. There were specific comments around the Free 30hr Childcare Extended Entitlement, generally parents were happy with the introduction  
You said…
“30 free hours needs to be offered in extended hours in order to enable parents who do not just work in school hours to benefit.”
“I am glad the 30 hours entitlement has been introduced, I know that when my son turns 3 this will have a massive impact on our childcare costs that means we won't struggle to both work: nursery fees currently take a large percentage of my wage and the deduction of 30 hours when he turns 3 will be greatly appreciated."  
“I am really happy with my childminder - it is a shame that the 30 hours is not easier for her to claim.” 
We say…
The introductions of the Free 30hr Childcare Extended Entitlement will have a significant impact on parent’s finances and Reading is supporting its registered childcare providers to be able to offer it.
Some childcare providers are stretching the Free 30hr Childcare Extended Entitlement over the year, these providers will include Schools Nursery/Class’s, Day Nurseries, Pre Schools and childminders, some may not be able to offer the full 30 hours. Parents would need to contact their childcare provider to find out how they are intending on offering the entitlement. Parents can choose to split their funding between more than one provider and do not have to take up the full entitlement.
Childcare Providers can simply opt into offering any of the Free Early Years Entitlement. Readings Early Years team will provide them with all the relevant information. 
Feedback from one of Reading’s registered Childminders:
“I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you and your team, for all your support.  Whenever I call your office you are very helpful, encouraging and supportive and this is so much appreciated.  I also wanted to say that I find the portal easy to use and having the ability to log the funding for universal and the additional hours in one place is great. “ 
3. Respondents made comments focussed on a need for Out of School provision, including before and after school and holiday provision 
You said…
“I feel afterschool clubs are heavily oversubscribed. With schools being extended and accepting more pupils they need to make arrangements for more afterschool club places.”
“Full time child care is good in the area, but the wrap around care when they go to school needs improving as all the holidays and short days don't support working families.”
We say…
Reading has 37 Breakfast and After School provisions and 20 holiday schemes, there are also many run by schools that are not listed on the Reading Services Guide as they are only accessible for children attending the school.
With more parents and carers wanting out of school provision the government has introduced the ‘Right to Request’ guidance. This guidance is there to help school in responding to requests from parents for breakfast, after-school and holiday club provision at their child’s school 
For more information visit:
4. Respondents’ comments identified a need for flexible provision (including ad hoc and to meet hours of work and commuting times) 
You said…
“Parents don't always need childcare until 6pm. Sometimes they just need till 4:15pm or 5pm.  Access to a wrap-around care is a 'must' for all primary schools (8am-6pm).”
“Decent wrap-around care is scarcer - there is currently a waiting list at my daughter's school. The times are also restricted, only running until 5.30, which is very early for people like me who commute.”
We say…
It is always difficult to source childcare before 7am and after 6pm; however, in Reading we do have childminders who can offer flexible childcare options. We have a number of childminders who are registered with Ofsted to offer overnight care. The Family Information Service also offers a brokerage service to help parents/carers find childcare to meet their needs and will work with childcare providers to achieve a positive outcome for the family. For further information visit
5. Respondents commented about the lack of suitable activities in the school holidays for older children
You said…
“There is no childcare/youth activities or clubs for children of secondary school age in my area. It is very difficult to cover childcare during the school holidays often meaning my self- employed husband sharing the time off with me and losing his income for the period”
“When I used the play club provision in Reading during holiday periods I found it excellent, however, now my child has just turned 12, she finds the play club activities too childish.”
We say…
There are currently 3 holiday clubs in Reading that can cater for secondary school age children. The demand for holiday care from parents generally drops once the child reaches secondary school and therefore many clubs base their offer on demand. Using a registered childminder is an alternative option as many offer holiday places to older children. There are many activities available for children and young people in Reading, these can be found on the Family Information Service website.
The Reading Play team will offer activities at the Outpost site during most holidays for children 8 years old and above. These are usually sessional and based on outdoor and active learning, please refer to the Reading Play website  and Facebook page for more details.
6. Respondents commented about the need for playgroups
You said…
“I love my child's nursery but it is very expensive. We are struggling to afford much more after bills, mortgage and fees but feel like it is the right place for him to develop. I am pregnant and would like to have more playgroups I could take him to but there doesn't seem to be anything for us in Caversham now. This is very worrying as I would rather be a stay at home but I wonder how I can give my son the social and learning opportunities”
“I would prefer more churches/community centres to offer a range of different weeks for holiday clubs during the holidays.”
We say…
There are various Toddler Groups run around Reading that offer many activities for children and young people, these can be found on the Family Information Service website.
7. There were various comments about addressing various SEND 
You said…
 “There doesn’t seem to be much support for children in mainstream with special educational needs, I am not aware of how to find information about childcare for special educational needs and I wish there was more information or a guide to choices”. 
We Say…
We understand it can be difficult for parents/carers of children with Special Educational Needs to find the right childcare that can support their child. The Reading Local Offer is being continually developed to provide information in one area about childcare. All Reading Childcare providers are expected to submit their local offer and update it yearly. This should cover how they can support children with special needs and disability within their setting. 
You said… 
“I don’t think we have sufficient and affordable childcare. I have a child with special needs and we are struggling to find childcare for him. My wife’s whole salary would have to go towards childcare”.
We Say… 
The Government will launch its Free 30hr Childcare Extended Entitlement offer in September. This will support parents to be able to work by allowing them to access more free childcare. Reading is committed to supporting early years settings to include and support children with additional needs, including awareness and support on how to apply for additional funding, and staff training on how to support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Early Years Childcare Settings. 
You Said… 
“Normal childcare providers are not able to meet children with disabilities needs. They simply refuse to take child, saying there is no space for it” 
“There are no additional needs child care provisions in my area, the child care that is available is after a diagnosis only. My daughter is on a two year waiting list with CAHMS, therefore we cannot use the child care provision that is currently available” 
“There is no appropriate childcare at all for our autistic children in Reading”
“When I was looking for childcare for a child with additional needs, I found the childcare providers did not want to look after him due to these needs, due to the lack of any additional support that they would receive”.
We Say… 
The Local Authority is working with Childcare Providers to break down this barrier. This is being done by reminding providers of their legal requirements to not discriminate against children with SEND, but also to provide support and training so that settings feel more confident to support children's needs. A survey has been completed with some settings, and an Audit is being completed with all settings to check how they are being inclusive, and check their compliance with the SEND code of Practice. There has been training already set up regarding the SEND Code of Practice and further training to support staff to have more knowledge and skills to support children’s needs.  The Local Authority is working with parents and has recently completed a Parent/Carer with children with SEND Survey to get a better understanding of your families concerns. Furthermore staff will attend the Reading Parent/Carer Forum in January 2018 to hear your voices.



Parents and carers are being urged to take part in a survey about the levels of childcare provision in Reading.

The annual survey is carried out to find out what users of childcare for children aged up to 14 years, and up to 18 years for children with special needs, think about the kind of care available in the borough. Childcare can take many forms from childminders, nurseries and pre-schools to after-school and holiday clubs.

The results of the survey will help the council shape future childcare provision in the town. This survey is being conducted as part of our statutory duty under the Childcare Act 2006/2016 to report on the childcare sufficiency in Reading.

Everyone completing the short questionnaire will be given the chance to enter a free prize draw to win £100 of vouchers for The Oracle Reading.

What Happens Next

This survey will form part of our 2017 Childcare Sufficiency which will be available early 2018.


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