Childcare system is failing disabled children


MPs and Peers are calling for urgent action to address the serious faults at the heart of the childcare system which have led to thousands of disabled children, from toddlers to teenagers, missing out on education and social opportunities.

The recent cross party Parliamentary Inquiry into Childcare for Disabled Children found widespread failures for disabled children across the childcare system. It revealed that 41 per cent of families with disabled children aged three and four are unable to access the full 15-hours free entitlement to childcare and early years education due to a chronic lack of appropriate settings or lack of funding.

Of those who responded to the Inquiry’s survey, 86 per cent reported paying above average childcare costs, while 72 per cent of families with disabled children have cut back or given up work because of childcare problems.

The childcare situation gets worse as a disabled child gets older: the cost increases and availability gets even more limited as mainstream holiday and after school clubs are often not inclusive.

The Inquiry also found confusion among local authorities, nurseries and schools about what their duties are in providing childcare for disabled children.

To start tackling some of the key issues, the Inquiry called on all parties to commit to developing a coherent policy to improve access to affordable, accessible and appropriate childcare for all children.

Robert Buckland MP, who co-chaired the Inquiry, blamed a “decade of piecemeal policies” for the confusion among local authorities and childcare providers about their duties. “We need one coherent policy to improve access to childcare for disabled children”, he said.

Inquiry Co-chair Pat Glass MP said the Inquiry had heard from families who had been turned away from mainstream nurseries simply because their child had a disability. “Providers must not be able to get away with this”, she said.



  1. So agree with this article. I have cared for many disabled children ..some our own but we have never been able to get childcare. Because what ever their disability there is a reason why that particular setting cannot provide that care for those needs. For example: suction, gastrostomy feeds etc. The schools do not run after school clubs, finding a suitable ‘ baby sitter ‘ means they have to be medically qualified so are far too expensive and will not do less than 4 hours. Any respite situations are always full holidays and weekends, and schools are reluctant to let parents take the children out of school because of the rules of taking children out. There are no where near enough respite homes, carers or professional people who are willing to think out of the box to support families who struggle with day to day care of children with complex medical special needs or behavioural problems such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome disorders, autism or ADHD time something was done!

  2. In my setting we work really hard to be inclusive but our local authority messes us around terribly with funding, we are a committee based preschool and are hand to mouth, when children need buddies we count on funding from the LEA. Last yr they owed us £3000 at one point and there wasnt enough money in the bank to pay the staff!! We are desperate to include all children in our community regardless of need but it is hard when we cant trust the LEA.


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