Today we launch the findings of our summer holiday childcare survey of parents of disabled children. Many thanks to all of you who responded. Our findings are pretty grim – only 10 per cent of parents say that their work is unaffected by the difficulties of finding and paying for appropriate childcare and two parents left work altogether because of care difficulties. The high cost of childcare is a real issue – more than half of parents responding said they are paying more for childcare than they would for a non-disabled child – with 62 per cent of those paying at least an extra £5 an hour. Over 80 per cent of parents say that their summer care arrangements are a compromise, and the vast majority are relying on family and friends to fill the gaps.
But why is this the case, and why has so little changed since our last survey in 2009? Local authorities are under a duty to secure the provision of sufficient childcare for working parents – but clearly many are not securing enough for disabled children. Parents don’t get recompensed more through tax credits or childcare vouchers for the high cost of childcare – but they are clearly paying well over the odds. And when good facilities are available, why are they only for a couple of weeks not the full summer holiday period? Parents told us that organizing care is “another full-time job” and that summer holidays can be the worst part of the year when “no physio or therapies are available, so my daughter’s health takes a nose dive, and that makes caring harder”.
These are the issues we’re campaigning to change. We need to hold local authorities to account for securing appropriate provision so parents of disabled children are not stressed and struggling to find care. We need to make sure that summer holiday care is inclusive and fun for disabled children, not a compromise. And, until we’ve cracked this problem, we need employers to be particularly understanding when parents ask for unpaid leave or flexible hours in the summer holidays – this may not be their choice but a choice forced on them by a lack of available, affordable, appropriate childcare.
Read our press release here: Summer holiday childcare for disabled children 2013 final and the full report here: A SURVEY OF SUMMER HOLIDAY CHILDCARE FOR DISABLED CHILDREN SUMMER 2013 final
And we want to hear from you. Let us have your comments and views on the report or the blog and cheer us up with some examples of really good practice for summer holiday childcare for disabled children.