Sheffield Council reacts to rising childcare cost report

Jayne Ludlam who has just taken over as Childrens Director for Sheffield City Council

Jayne Ludlam who has just taken over as Childrens Director for Sheffield City Council

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Childcare costs are 15 per cent higher in Sheffield than in other parts of the region and a quarter of toddlers learn in settings which ‘need improvement’, according to a new report.

The Family and Childcare Trust found paid-for nursery, childminder and school places were ten to 15 per cent more expensive in the city than the regional average - costing an average of £96.47 a week for a two-year-old in part time care.

One Sheffield mum said charges were ‘crippling’.

The trust has called for a ‘radical review’ as costs have risen by 33 per cent nationally.

Its report also found Sheffield Council ‘needs to ensure more children benefit from free early years care in high quality settings.’

In Sheffield just over half of free childcare places available in a Government scheme were taken by November 2014.

The trust also found 23 per cent of three and four-year-olds are spending their free early years’ education in settings which Ofsted found to be ‘inadequate’ or which needed improving.

Sheffield Council says childcare fees ranged from £3 an hour to £5.62 and were generally ‘below’ the national average.

It has raised awareness about how parents can access provision and an analysis has shown 85 per cent of schools, nurseries and childminders are rated good or above.

Jayne Ludlam, executive director of children, young people and families, said: “Sheffield has one of the largest cohorts of eligible two-year-olds in the country and in under two years we have provided places for over 2,000 children.

“More parents of two, three and four-year-olds are taking up the offer of 15 hours of free early learning than ever before and we are on course to make sure there is a place for every two-year-old in the city who wishes to access one by this summer.”

Meanwhile, Deputy PM Nick Clegg has urged parents to check if they are eligible for free childcare.

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