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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. 


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