Helping families with disabled children access childcare
4 August 2011
A new research report aimed at improving service provision for disabled children and their families has been published by the Department for Education. The publication is co-authored by the University of Bristol, the National Centre for Social Research and the University of Warwick.
The report, entitled Disabled Children’s Access to Childcare (DCATCH): a qualitative Evaluation and co-authored by David Abbott from the University’s School for Policy Studies, forms part of the Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) programme, an initiative established in 2007 by the Government to highlight the importance of appropriate childcare for disabled children and young people and acknowledge the lack of adequate provision to meet need.
The Disabled Children’s Access to Childcare (DCATCH) pilot was a specific AHDC initiative dedicated to improving childcare provision for this group of children and their families. The £35 million initiative, which ran from March 2008 to March 2011, involved funding ten local authorities to pilot means of addressing the lack of childcare.
The report outlines qualitative interviews with 22 families across the ten DCATCH pilot areas. The aim was to explore the acceptability and impact of DCATCH support/interventions and find out more about what difference these arrangements made and what particular characteristics of support made the most difference.
The report’s key conclusions were:
- DCATCH support and interventions were meeting families needs in a responsive, flexible and solution focused way.
- Effective childcare encompassed a wide range of activities and parents said that these generally enabled them to meet work and other commitments whilst also providing positive and enjoyable opportunities for disabled children and young people. Disabled children and young people who took part in this evaluation expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the activities they were involved with.
- Families gave accounts of childcare providers who were not willing to continue having disabled children without 1-1 support even with offers of training and other kinds of support. For some families, whilst DCATCH had provided invaluable support, lack of structural or attitudinal changes in the wider childcare market meant that they were back where they started.
- Families reported experiences of how effective childcare can work and is possible. It has raised expectations on several levels: that more options about work are possible (more hours or better jobs); that some understandably anxious parents can entrust their children to other people; and, that disabled children and young people can experience increased confidence, independence and happiness.