Childcare Sufficiency Assessment

Outcomes from Parent Survey and Focus Groups

Context

The Welsh Government consulted with parents and carers across all Welsh LAs via an online Smart Survey which ran from 1st October – 31st October 2021. The intention of the survey was to understand the childcare needs of parents/carers with children aged 0-17, in particular their experiences of using registered services (i.e. services which are registered with Care Inspectorate Wales) and unregistered childcare (e.g. nannies, au pairs, activity/sports clubs etc.). 451 responses were received from parents/carers across Pembrokeshire, representing 8,621 of all respondents across Wales.

Whilst the number of parent/carer responses increased by 35% since the previous CSA, the respondents to the online survey represent only a small proportion of the county’s 126,301 residents and therefore the limitations of the data analysed below should be acknowledged.

To supplement the Welsh Government’s survey and provide richer and more specific data on barriers to accessing childcare, Premier Advisory Group conducted focus groups and in-depth 1:1 interview on behalf of the Council with parents/carers across the county. As an independent research body, this was intended to give parents/carers the opportunity to openly share their views on childcare with the assurance that all data used to inform the report will remain anonymous. Specific focus groups were advertised to parents/carers who identified themselves as belonging to the following groups:

  • Working parents and parents seeking work or training
  • BAME parents
  • Parents of children with ALN and/or disabilities
  • Low-income families and unemployed parents
  • Single parents
  • Welsh speaking parents

Parents were encouraged to sign up voluntarily through Eventbrite and the groups were advertised through social media, schools, Early Years settings and other relevant groups and organisations covering Pembrokeshire and Wales. Two focus group sessions were held via Zoom over separate dates, one group was held for parents of children with ALN and disabilities, with another held for working parents and parents seeking work or training. The findings from this additional consultation are fed into the analysis below.

Socioeconomic characteristics of responding parents

In terms of caring/parental responsibilities, the following responses were recorded when parents were asked which of the following best describes their household.

  • I have sole responsibility for my children 18.4%
  • I share responsibility for my children with someone I live with 71.4%
  • I share responsibility for my children with someone I don’t live with 8.2%
  • I am a parent to be 0.4%
  • I am a foster carer 0.4%
  • I am a grandparent 1.1% 

As is shown above, most of the respondents share responsibility for their children with someone they live with, with 18.4% being lone parents. 0.4% were recorded as foster carers. In terms of the employment/training status of respondents, the vast majority (81.6%) are currently employed, with 5% not in a job but looking for employment (see table below).

Looking for a job but not working yet

Percentage of total

You 5.3%
Your partner (if applicable) 1.3%
Employed percentage of total
You 84.0%
Your partner (if applicable) 59.9%
Self-employed percentage of total

You

6.4%
Your partner (if applicable) 18%
In education or training percentage of total
You 7.3%
Your partner (if applicable) 2.0%
Not working and not looking for a job percentage of total
You 4.7%
Your partner (if applicable) 0.4%
Unable to work percentage of total
You 3,8%
Your partner (if applicable) 0.7%

 

When asked what their gross household income is per week, the following responses were provided (20 respondents did not answer).

  • Prefer not to say: 13.8%
  • Up to £100: 1.3%
  • £100 to £149: 2.2%
  • £150 to £249: 5.1%
  • £250 to £349: 8.4%
  • £350 to £499: 9.5%
  • £500 to £580: 11.5%
  • £581 to £ 750: 11.8%
  • £750 to £999: 16.6%
  • More than £1,000: 15.3%

Of the 451 respondents, 62 parents stated that they receive Childcare element of the Working Tax/Universal Credit, with a further 82 receiving Childcare Vouchers/Tax free childcare (see below).

  • Childcare element of the Working Tax/Universal Credit: (13.75%) 62
  • Childcare Vouchers/Tax free childcare: (18.18%) 82
  • Childcare Grant for Students: (0.22%) 1
  • Employer contribution: (0.22%) 1

Ethnicity of respondents

As detailed below, most respondents 95.3% respondents to the survey identified as Welsh/English/Scottish/Northern Irish/British, which is roughly in line with Pembrokeshire demographics (see Section 3). 3 did not provide a response

  • Irish 0.22% 1
  • Welsh/English/Scottish/Northen Irish/British 95.34% 430
  • Whte and Black Caribbean 0.44% 2
  • Gypsy and Irish Traveller 0.44% 2
  • Dutch 0.22% 1
  • European 0.44% 2
  • German 0.22% 1
  • Polish 0.22% 1
  • Welsh/Asian 0.22% 1
  • White and Asian 0.67% 3
  • Indian 0.22% 1
  • Caribbean 0.22% 1
  • White 0.22% 1
  • British,Irish,German 0.22% 1 

Current use of childcare

As is detailed below, close to half of responses were from parents with two children, with 29% from parents with one child. No responses were recorded from parents with seven or eight children.

  • Zero: 11.5%
  • One: 29.3%
  • Two: 44.6%
  • Three: 11.8%
  • Four: 2.4%
  • Five: 0.2%
  • Six: 0.2%
  • Seven: 0.0%
  • Eight: 0.0%
  • N/A: 0.0%

According to responses, parents had children covering a wide range of ages. As is shown below, the most common age group of children of respondents is ages 5-8, closely followed by children ages 9 to 11 and under-2s. The smallest group was children aged 12-17.

Ages of your children

Parents were asked whether their child (ages 3-4) is currently accessing a funded early education place at a school or nursery. Of the 160 parents who responded, 69.4% stated they are accessing such a place in the same LA as they live, with only 2 respondents indicating they access funded early education place in another LA. For those who stated ‘No’, most reasons were because the child had now started school.

However, one parent stated that they had to pay due to living in Carmarthenshire whilst another living in Pembrokeshire U002 was unaware that they could get such funding.

Is your child/ren 3 or 4 accessing funded early education place at school or nursery

Parents were also asked if their 3- or 4-year-old is currently accessing government funded childcare through the Childcare Offer, of which 47.8% of the respondents (161 for this question) indicated they do in the same LA as they currently live.

Is your age 3 or 4 year old children accessing government funded childcare (the Childcare Offer)

 

Flying Start

With regards to the Flying Start scheme, the chart below shows that 69.2% of 169 respondents stated that their 2- or 3-year-old was not currently accessing Flying Start childcare, with 14.2% stating that their child is currently accessing such childcare; 3.6% were ‘not sure’.

When asked to elaborate, 34 respondents stated that they were not eligible or unable to access Flying Start provision due to the area they were living in, with most of these respondents from the SA62, SA73, SA61, SA72 and SA70 postcodes. Parents voiced their concerns and disagreements with the area/postcode-based Flying Start eligibility. For example:

“We are not eligible for our child to attend due to our postcode.”

“Because we can’t access it in area we live”

Is your child age 2 or 3 year old child/ren accessing Flying Start childcare

When asked whether they wish to access government-funded childcare when their child became eligible at age 3, response rates were low, with 83.4% respondents not answering. Of those who did respond, 74 said ‘Yes’, with only one respondent saying ‘No’. Further comments were also provided:

“Will lose universal credit”

In terms of Additional Learning Needs and/or disability or long-term illness, most parents who responded did not have a child with ALN or disability (see below). As is shown, 91.1% of parents do not have a child with a disability of long-term illness, whilst 85.9% parents do not have a child with ALN

Do any of your children have a disability or a long term illness

Do any of your children have a special education need/additional learning need (they need additional support with their learning)

In terms of the provision accessed by parents, a range of providers and types of childcare were listed as being accessed via the survey. As is detailed in the tables below, the most popular childcare provision during both term-time and in the holidays is family/friends (unpaid), with private day nursery the second most common, again during both term-time and holiday time.

Number of parents using type of childcare (term-time)

  • Childminder: 62
  • Before School/Breakfast Club: 164
  • After School Club: 130
  • Private Day Nursery: 132
  • School Nursery: 21
  • Playgroup: 22
  • Cylch Meithrin: 31
  • Drop off Crèche: 10
  • Nanny: 3
  • Au Pair: 0
  • Family/Friends (Paid): 24
  • Family/Friends (Unpaid): 217
  • None During Term Time: 36

Number of parents using type of childcare (holiday) 

  • Childminder: 60
  • Holiday Care: 63
  • Private Day Nursery: 124
  • Pre-Prep (Private) School: 3
  • Playgroup: 7
  • Cylch Meithrin: 2
  • Drop Off Crèche: 11
  • Nanny: 4
  • Au Pair: 0
  • Playscheme: 11
  • Family/Friends (Paid): 22
  • Family/Friends (Unpaid): 219
  • None During School Holidays: 55

When determining how many hours on average per week parents use childcare, the following table provides a breakdown of how many hours, on average, parents use childcare in Pembrokeshire. As is shown, on average parents use 19.5 hours of childcare per week in Pembrokeshire during term-time, and 23.8 hours per week during school holidays.

During term time (average)

  • At least (hours): 16.5
  • On average (hours): 19.5
  • At most (hours): 22.8
  • At least (hours): 21.5
  • On average (hours): 23.8
  • At most (hours): 29.4

The majority of parents paid between £10 - £199 for their childcare each week. With a small percentage (3.8%) paying over £300. Those reporting that they were paying over £300 for childcare were located in the following areas, by frequency:

  • One from Pembrokeshire U001
  • Seven from Pembrokeshire U002
  • Three from Pembrokeshire U003

How much on average do you pay per week for your childcare (not including government funded childcare)

As far as the quality of provision is concerned, parents are mostly happy. As is shown below, 43.9% of parents were ‘Very Satisfied’ with their current childcare provider, with a further 32.2% ‘Quite Satisfied’, meaning 76% of parents are satisfied with their childcare provision. Only ten respondents said they were ‘Very Dissatisfied’ (see table below).

How satisfied are you with your current childcare provider

Of those stating they were unhappy with their childcare arrangements; the following reasons were cited. As can be seen, affordability and flexibility are the main issues.

  • More hours available 10.9% 6
  • Extend opening hours - early morning 9.0% 5
  • Extend opening hours - evenings 12.7% 7
  • Extend opening hours - to cover weekends 9.0% 5
  • Extend opening hours - overnight care 7.2% 4
  • More flexible sessions 7.2% 4
  • More affordable 27.2% 15
  • Different locations 5.4% 3
  • Childcare that is better at meeting my child’s additional learning needs 1.8% 1
  • Better quality provisions 9.0% 5
  • No improvements needed 0.0% 0

For parents not currently accessing childcare, a variety of reasons were provided, as detailed in the table below.

  • My child is on a waiting list for a provider and we are waiting for a place to become available 2.0% 8
  • I use informal childcare such as a family member or friend 23.7% 17
  • I choose not to access any childcare 2.3% 2
  • I am a stay-at-home parent and have no need for childcare 6.4% 4
  • My children are old enough to look after themselves 2.6% 2
  • There is no childcare with sufficient quality 2.6% 4
  • There is no Suitable Welsh Language provision 1.7% 5
  • No suitable provision in our language, which is neither Welsh nor English 0.0% 1
  • The childcare available is not flexible enough for my needs 9.6% 13
  • The cost of childcare is too expensive 22.2% 31
  • Childcare times are unsuitable 6.1% 11
  • There is no childcare available that is suitable for my child's age 5.8% 7
  • There is a problem with transport 2.6% 1
  • There is no childcare where I need it to be 4.9% 3
  • There is no childcare that can cater for my child's specific needs 2.0% 3
  • I only use childcare on an ad hoc basis, and it is impossible to plan 4.6% 4

 

Parents were further asked whether they access childcare through the medium of Welsh, with the responses below provided.

Do you access childcare through the medium of Welsh

As is shown above, 13.1% parents access childcare via Welsh medium, with a plurality (42.4%) not accessing through this medium.

For those who indicated ‘No’, 7.8% stated that they would like to access childcare through the medium of Welsh (see below).

If no would you like to access childcare through the medium of welsh

In terms of barriers to Welsh medium childcare, the following factors were cited as the main issues parents were facing in accessing provision.

  • Distance: 24
  • Availability: 55
  • Quality of Care: 3
  • Staff language capability: 10
  • Cost: 14
  • Insufficient hours of care: 9

Further to this, parents were asked whether they can understand, speak, read or write Welsh. According to the survey, 190 stated they could understand Welsh, with 111 stating they could speak, 109 read, and 87 write in Welsh

  • Understand: (42.13%) 190
  • Speak: (24.61%) 111
  • Read: (24.17%) 109
  • Write: (19.29%) 87

Parents were asked to what extent they agreed with a range of statements when it came to their child’s provision. Responses are detailed below:

Statement

Strongly agree 

Tend to agree

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree 

N/A 

 I am satisfied with my childcare in term time 195 150  34  17  55 
 I am satisfied with my childcare in school holidays 132  121  54  37  107 
 The quality of childcare is high 202  142  33  66 
 There is a good choice of childcare in my area 61 108 134 104 44
 Childcare is well located 126  159  75  39  52 
 Childcare caters for my children’s needs 161  157  32  27  74 
 I would like my child to attend more registered childcare 86  108  66  32  159 
 Childcare is too expensive 239  128  28  54 
 I would prefer to use family/friends for childcare 74  122  112  43  100 
 I have a problem with childcare arrangements that are unreliable (eg. cancel sessions at short notice) 21  49  84  125  172 
 Childcare is a barrier to me accessing employment or training 84  102  66  57  142 
 I know where to find out information about childcare 79  158  122  45  47 
 I know where to find out info on financial assistance for childcare 43  105  155  90  58 

 

As the above table demonstrates, there are clear strengths in childcare provision, from a parent’s perspective, alongside key areas for improvement. For example, parents are overwhelmingly in agreement that childcare provision is of a high quality, with parents very satisfied with their childcare in term time. However, a significant majority agree that childcare is too expensive, as well as many parents feeling there is inadequate availability of choices of childcare in their area.

Further, close to 50% of 475 parents reported that childcare had caused problems at work, with a further 17.05% stating that childcare had prevented them from working or getting a job altogether (see below).

  • Caused problems at work: (52.33%) 236
  • Prevented Continuation of work: (17.96%) 81
  • Stopped you working/getting a job: (19.51%) 88
  • Stopped you from training: (15.52%) 70

Demand for childcare

  • More: (41.7%) 188
  • Less: (16.2%) 73
  • Stay the same: (30.2%) 136
  • Don't Know/Not Sure: (12.0%) 54

Of those expecting to require less childcare, the vast majority of respondents indicated this was due to a child getting older, with two expecting to work/study from home more. One respondent indicated they were trying to have more time with family, with two mentioning COVID-19 (one alluded to risk of COVID-19 infection with the other alluding to closures and disruption).

Of those expecting to require more childcare, most anticipated requiring before school and breakfast club, closely followed by family/friends (unpaid), day nursery and holiday club (see below).

  • Childminder: (9.76%) 44
  • Before School and Breakfast Club: (24.83%) 112
  • Private Day Nursery: (15.30%) 69
  • Playgroup: (8.20%) 37
  • Cylch Meithrin: (6.65%) 30
  • Drop Off Crèche: (2.00%) 9
  • Nanny: (1.11%) 5
  • Au Pair: (1.11%) 5
  • Pre-Prep (Private) School: (0.22%) 1
  • Holiday Club: (14.19%) 64
  • Family/Friends (Paid): (2.66%) 12
  • Family/Friends (Unpaid): (18.40%) 83
  • After School club: (23.95%) 108
  • N/A: (0.22%) 1

Barriers to childcare

Focus group with parents of children with ALN and disabilities

Parents of children with ALN noted the struggle of accessing childcare, with one participant noting they had to give up their job as there is no access to wraparound childcare before 9 or after 3. Provision is also very expensive, with one parent paying £95 a day for their current childcare; provision is of great quality but very costly. They find it very difficult to get respite and it is essential that they access childcare as their children need the 1-1 support. The childcare can be fantastic when they receive it but accessing it is a challenge, in terms of affordability and finding specified care of children with specified needs.

The consensus is that there is a lack of appropriate times for parents of children with ALN and no care before 9am and after 3pm. 1-1 support is needed but there is little specialised training for day-care. Parents felt as though there needs to be more trained staff, more funding and the care needs to be specialised for severe disabilities.

One parent reported they can access a great nursery, but they don’t get the opportunity to talk to other parents and they don’t feel very supported. They are aware that people offer childcare support and can provide for children with ALN, but they cannot often provide for children with more specific and severe needs. This is an issue across the county, they believe that all training regarding childcare should involve ALN training at a core part.

Participants added that further funding, more trained staff, longer provision hours, and opportunities for face-to-face support groups for parents and children with ALN would massively improve childcare in the county. Additionally, one commented that they have never been given the option to speak to someone from the LA, and they would like to be able to give more feedback. Focus groups would be a good idea to do this, or perhaps the council could interact with parents on a regular basis.

One participant mentioned they were lucky during the pandemic as they used their home setting to allow people to come and support them, due to their child being classed as a “child in need”, but other parents seemed to struggle with no respite, which is imperative when you have a child with ALN.

Parents do feel as though the quality of childcare has stayed the same throughout COVID-19 but noted that lots of childcare places are closing. Their current provisions make them feel safe and use suitable guidelines and testing to ensure parents feel comfortable accessing childcare.  This was a worry at the start as parents would hold back on receiving childcare, due to the uncertainty of the setting’s safety and exposing their children to a serious illness. The fear is still there for some, and parents are worried about making the right decision.

Communication has increased since COVID-19, with many children receiving the specific focus and support that they needed due to a reduction in the number of children attending settings. One parent noted that their child could do the things they liked, whereas normally other children’s needs would have to be considered too and this would limit their options.

Participants thought that childcare places will decline in the next 2-5 years, places are closing, and many felt as though there wasn’t enough support over the pandemic, this lack of support is still felt now. Childcare is already expensive in Pembrokeshire, if it rises then it is going to be extremely difficult to access without funding they are very fortunate to access flying start and they could not imagine what they would do without it.

Further comments were made that there needs to be more accessible childcare for children with ALN and it needs to be advertised better. Often providers don’t advertise if they accept children with ALN and it needs to be made known, their costs and times aren’t signposted. Furthermore, participants added that the council doesn’t help as much they could. All ALN advertisement is by word of mouth. The council does help run support groups, but they’re being ran over zoom and many parents felt as though they miss the face-to-face aspect.

Focus group with working parents and parents seeking work or training

Participants felt that there is a lack of availability to childcare in Pembrokeshire, and one parent has had to move house to fit with childcare needs. Accessing childcare can take a long time as most providers are fully booked and few childminders operate waiting lists. The Family Information Service has a great list and can be very helpful, but when one parent used it to find childcare everyone noted it was already at capacity. The quality of childcare is great but there isn’t enough to meet the demand.

Availability is poor, which is a major issue for childcare. Participants felt that often the responsibility of childcare falls upon the woman in the relationship, meaning that many have to consider pausing their career due to childcare costs and / or lack of availability. Suitable and accessible childcare offers opportunity for parents, especially women, to explore their careers without having to sacrifice anything.

Parents felt there has been little opportunity to share their views with the LA, and one participant tried to engage with the council years ago but received no response.

Many parents had to reduce their hours over the pandemic to adapt to the lack of childcare available at this time. Although participants agreed that they felt their children were safe in any provisions they could access during the pandemic, one parent noted that communication could have been improved from the provision they accessed, although that same provision offered extended hours and their wrap around was brilliant so they did not mind as much.

Key findings from parent consultation/survey

  • There is widespread consensus that the quality of childcare is good; however, parents also expressed concerns around affordability of childcare, as well as limited flexibility and accessibility, with some parents having to move house to find suitable childcare
  • In the parent survey, a range of other issues were cited, including no, or limited, school wraparound care in their area; limited holiday care provision; limited places/support for ALN/disabled children; limited Welsh medium provision; and no trained ASD and ADHD providers
  • ALN provision is often expensive and limited wraparound care that do not suit inflexible working arrangement. This is perhaps compounded by a lack of 1-1 provision available for children with particularly high-needs
  • Parents would like more opportunities to share experiences, discuss their issues with the the Council and have general conversations in person, though it was acknowledged that there has been attempts to facilitate this online
  • A lot of parents are relying on informal childcare (such as extended family, friends) to meet childcare needs
ID: 9133, revised 06/10/2022
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