Labour Manifesto 2017:
Currently, there is a gap between the end of maternity leave and the beginning of full-time schooling. This gap can make it difficult for parents, particularly women, to return to work, unless they have access to informal childcare support. There is also extensive evidence that early years education has a major impact on child development, and that time in a formal education setting for young children can improve performance at GCSE and beyond.
Labour would seek to roll out educational provision for early years children as part of a National Education Service that is truly cradle-to-grave.
Labour introduced free childcare hours for parents, which were fully funded and resourced.
Under the Conservatives, the free hours entitlement is chronically under-funded, with provision patchy and hard to navigate. Many providers now simply refuse to participate in the scheme. The result is that many parents aren’t even getting the hours they’re entitled to.
1. Overhaul the existing childcare system in which subsidies are given directly to parents who often struggle to use them, and transition to a system of high-quality childcare places in mixed environments with direct government subsidy.
2. Maintain current commitments on free hours and make significant capital investment during our first two years of government, to ensure that the places exist to meet demand.
3. Phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern.
4. Transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, by increasing staff wages and enhancing training opportunities. This will benefit staff, who are among our worst-paid workers, and improve child development.
Labour is committed to ensure every child has an opportunity to succeed. Sure Start Centres play an essential role towards this goal. However, Hundreds of Sure Start Centres closed due to Austerity. Labour’s anti-austerity policy will change this.
Sure Start Children’s Centres are expected to provide:
- In centres in the most disadvantaged areas: integrated early learning and childcare (early years provision) and support for a childminder network
- In centres in the least disadvantaged areas, which do not elect to offer early years provision: drop-in activity sessions for children, such as stay and play sessions
- Family Support, including support and advice on parenting, information about services available in the area and access to specialist, targeted services; and Parental Outreach
- Child and Family Health Services, such as antenatal and postnatal support, information and guidance on breastfeeding, health and nutrition, smoking cessation support, and speech and language therapy and other specialist support
- Links with Jobcentre Plus to encourage and support parents and carers who wish to consider training and employment
- Quick and easy access to wider services