This toolkit has been produced against the backdrop of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA). The assessments have formed part of the statutory duties and responsibilities of local authorities in relation to the Childcare Act 2006.
All local authorities have a duty to assess the sufficiency of childcare, and are required to take steps to analyse demand, map supply, and map supply to demand in order to secure sufficiency of childcare.
The assessment is a measure of the nature and extent of the need for, and supply of childcare within each local area.
It helps identify gaps in the market and - in consultation with parents, communities and employers – plan how to support the market to address them.
The assessment duty is concerned with the supply of, and demands for, formal childcare which may be registered, unregistered or approved and which meets the requirements of parents in the local authority area who require childcare in order to enable them to take up or remain in work, or undertake education or training which could reasonably be expected to assist them to obtain work.
In determining whether provision of childcare is sufficient, a local authority must have regard to the needs of parents in their area for the provision of childcare in respect of which the childcare element of the working tax credit is payable and the provision of childcare which is suitable for disabled children.
The local authority needs to have a clear understanding of the demographics of the local population, in particular the factors that will drive demand for childcare, with an understanding of the local labour market and patterns of training and adult learning locally.
Working patterns are varied, so we have to consider shift work and other work outside the core 8-6 working day, recognising that commuting time will affect when childcare is needed. Changes in employment patterns - the opening and closure, expansion or shrinkage of sources of employment – may impact upon parental demands for childcare, so will need to be factored into the childcare sufficiency assessment.
Removing the childcare barrier - or the perceived barrier - to good quality, affordable, accessible childcare for many working parents who wish to remain in the workforce or move from benefits to work supports social and economic regeneration of communities.
Likewise, ensuring that childcare provision is reliable and sustainable is a key aspect of enabling parents to make real choices in balancing work and family life, the local authority will support businesses which have capacity to develop successfully to maturity by ensuring that appropriate business support and training is available.