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Childcare sufficiency and sustainability in disadvantaged areas

Toddlers playing with sand
Published: April 2012


As part of the Fairness Premium announced by the coalition government, from September 2013 the least advantaged two-year-olds will be entitled to 15 hours of free early education. We wanted to find out:

  • how successful local authorities feel they have been in securing the sustainability of childcare places in disadvantaged areas
  • what challenges local authorities and childcare providers face in providing sustainable childcare
  • whether more support is needed for local authorities to ensure there are enough places for two-year-olds from 2013



We found that sustainable childcare provision in disadvantaged areas needs to be publicly funded in one form or another.


  • Private providers able to attract better-off fee-paying families did not think it would be financially worthwhile to deliver places for disadvantaged two-year-olds
  • Voluntary providers were often reliant on existing funding streams (providing free places for three-and-four-year olds), but the extent to which the funding was meeting their operational costs varied depending on a range of factors
  • Childminders were concerned that involvement would lead to an increase in paperwork.


Voluntary and independent sector providers and local authority-funded providers often had the right skills to care for disadvantaged two-year old, but felt they would need capital funding to expand or adapt their premises and considerable support to deliver the entitlement.


We analysed local authority Childcare Sufficiency Assessments, carried out a literature review of parental demand for and knowledge about childcare in disadvantaged areas and did interviews with local authority strategists, pre-school providers and childminders.

Read the report

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