Fair Funding for our Kids Research shows nine out of ten parents who want to change their working situation say the main barrier is lack of appropriate childcare.
And more than two-fifths of parents are dissatisfied with their childcare arrangements. The findings are revealed in a new report based on a survey of over 400 parents.
Parents of children aged 3 or 4 are entitled to 600 hours of free childcare per year. And the Scottish Government says its early learning and childcare policy should “support parents to work, train or study, especially those who need help with finding sustainable employment.”
But half of parents who were unhappy with their childcare arrangements said it was because the hours available were too short or did not suit their working arrangements.
This is largely because most councils only offer free childcare hours in slots of 3 hours 10 minutes during term time only, with no option for parents to buy extra hours for the rest of the day: an unusable system for many working families. Research by the Fair Funding campaign in 2016 found that half of all nursery places in Scotland were for half days only.
The report, Beyond the Half Day Place, also reveals fifteen per cent of parents are receiving no free hours at all for their 3 or 4 year old. This follows a 2015 Care Inspectorate report which found a third of 3-4 year olds were not receiving their funded place.
The Scottish Government plans to increase the entitlement to 1140 hours by 2020, and has published a blueprint setting out how it will achieve this by providing more flexible childcare. But campaigners point out today’s nursery age children will be at school by 2020, and are demanding immediate action.