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Childcare challenges

As the school summer holidays draw to a close, you, or someone you know will probably have used some kind of childcare during the six week holidays.  There are plenty of options out there from football camps to activity weeks, leisure centre schemes to clubs in the local church hall. 

For parents of a disabled child though, the choices for childcare, both in the holidays and after school, present a minefield of issues.  Shockingly, in a survey of parents, 66 per cent said they had paid more for childcare for disabled children than non-disabled children. 

They are paying two to three times as much as the standard hourly childcare rate – up to £20 per hour – compared to a national average of £4.25 (for ages 2-4).  And that’s if they are able to find a setting which is appropriate to their child’s needs.

An independent Parliamentary Inquiry, supported by Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM), part of the National Children’s Bureau was launched earlier this year, to report on the problems faced by disabled children and their families in accessing childcare. 

Hannah has two children – seven-year-old Rose who has autism and learning disabilities and a five-year-old son.  She hasn’t been able to find flexible childcare in either after school clubs or in the holidays that are suitable for Rose, whilst this hasn’t been a problem with her son.  She says appropriate, affordable childcare is a problem for her and it’s not getting any easier. 

“There simply is not enough to go around as cuts are taking effect and what is left, often is not appropriate for children with very differing needs.  People forget you can’t share pickups, play-dates after school or exchange childcare in the way you can with children who do not have special needs or disabilities.”

Robert Buckland MP, co-chair of the Inquiry, is a parent and local campaigner, he said:

“Despite the growing political and public attention childcare has received, the issue of childcare for disabled children has received comparatively little attention.  We have launched this Inquiry to ensure that disabled children are part of the ongoing childcare debate.”

The report, available to read on-line, makes recommendations for improving the affordability, quality and availability of appropriate childcare, and can be found at




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