Sense has responded to today’s Government announcement of an additional £55m of funding towards the implementation of the 30 hours free childcare policy due to start in September. The funding, which is double the amount previously set aside by the Government, has been made available to enable nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups to invest in the new buildings and upgrade facilities needed to accommodate the new initiative.
Sense, a national charity supporting disabled people with complex needs, has been campaigning for better access to specialist early years support for disabled children following the release of its Play report last year. The report revealed that poor wheelchair accessibility, unsuitable equipment and a lack of changing spaces were amongst the barriers currently preventing parents from accessing early years and play settings for their disabled child.
Kate Fitch, Head of Public Policy for national disability charity, Sense, said:
“Although it’s positive that the Government has committed to doubling the funding available to help nurseries and early education settings implement the new 30 hour childcare policy, it is crucial that these steps help to increase access for disabled children.
“Access to good quality early education plays a vital role in the development of children with complex needs; however, our Play report last year revealed that all too often disabled children are missing out, with 81% of parents reporting difficulties finding childcare and early education places for their disabled child.
“Currently there are a number of barriers, including a lack of changing places, unsuitable equipment and poor wheelchair accessibility, preventing disabled children and their parents from securing quality childcare; and there has been concern that financial pressures, due to insufficient funding, could further restrict the number of providers able to offer places to disabled children.
“With this latest pot of funding promising to help nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups make the building and facility upgrades needed to adopt the new policy, it is vital that the Government makes inclusivity and accessibility for disabled children a priority, in order to ensure that early education and play are truly available for all.”