parentsdisabledchildAn independent Parliamentary Inquiry has been launched to report on the problems faced by disabled children and their families in accessing childcare.

The inquiry is seeking evidence from families, professionals and a range of stakeholders and will report by the end of July.

Inquiry co-chair Robert Buckland MP said: "As a parent and local campaigner, I fully appreciate the value of good quality childcare for children and young people with disabilities and their families. Childcare helps children form new friendships, supports participation and good educational outcomes, and helps parents to balance caring, their own wellbeing and work.

"Despite the growing political and public attention childcare has received, the issue of childcare for disabled children has received comparatively little attention. We have launched this inquiry to ensure that disabled children are part of the on-going childcare debate."

The Inquiry will look at the long-standing problems concerning access to childcare that affects many families with disabled children as highlighted by groups such as Every Disabled Child Matters, the Family and Childcare Trust, Contact a Family and Working Families.

Parents with disabled children have reported paying 2-3 times as much as the standard hourly childcare rate - up to £20 per hour – compared to a national average of £4.25 for a child aged 2-4 years old.

Further reading: Parents of children with disabilities face holiday childcare problems

Other issues the Inquiry will consider include:
• 66% of parents surveyed have paid more for childcare for disabled children than for non-disabled children
• Only 28% of local authorities in England say they have enough childcare for disabled children
• Just 40% of parents of disabled children believed that childcare providers in their area could cater for their child’s condition.

Buckland's fellow co-chair, Pat Glass MP, added: "As a result of the time I spent working with local councils, I know how children with disabilities and their families benefit when services are inclusive and meet their needs. In light of what we know about the impact a lack of good quality, affordable childcare has on families with disabled children, it is more important than ever that children with additional needs are well-served by childcare provision going into the future.

"This Inquiry wants to make concrete and workable proposals as to how to tackle an issue that has negatively affected disabled children and their families for many years, so as to ensure that future childcare policy gets its right for all children, including disabled children and their families."

The inquiry's Call for Evidence and details about getting involved in the inquiry can be found at http://www.edcm.org.uk/childcareinquiry