Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) (CF 25)

During the session there was one question surrounding the duty to assess childcare sufficiency that I committed to sending in writing.

Section 11 of the Childcare Act 2006 makes prescriptive requirements for LAs to develop and publish a sufficiency assessment according to specific conditions. The opinion of the Association is that this is largely a bureaucratic exercise, in the terms prescribed, that does not allow for local decision making on the best way to monitor the quality and provision of childcare in the area. It is particularly unhelpful to have a nationally prescribed process given that once published there is little done by central government with or about the sufficiency statements.

Local Government retains the duty to ensure sufficient, high quality, appropriate childcare for their local populations and this remains a key priority for local leadership to monitor in an appropriate way. This is an ongoing process which will include consultation with families and maintaining positive relationships with local providers from all sectors.

The production of a 3 yearly statement does not take into account the fluid nature of childcare. Once a statement is produced it is immediately out of date and the report serves as a costly data collection exercise.

It is for these reasons that the ADCS does not oppose the repeal of this specific duty. This would relieve Local Authorities from unnecessary centrally prescribed bureaucracy, whilst allowing those Local Authorities who wish to continue to produce statements to do so in a way that meets local need.

I trust this answers the question as set by the committee.

March 2013

Prepared 13th March 2013