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Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSAs)

PAG Staff2023, Article, Case Studies, Early Years

Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSAs)

Overview


At PAG, one influential service we offer is support with Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSAs). Since our formation in 2015, we’ve undertaken CSAs for 30 local authorities (LAs) throughout England and Wales and have experience which stretches back to childcare audits in the early days of Sure Start and the Childcare Act 2006.

Local authorities have a crucial role as strategic leaders in the provision of childcare locally, a position that is expanded and emphasised in law by the Childcare Act 2006 (the 2006 Act).

Our CSAs are designed to help LAs understand the current quality and accessibility of childcare provision in their local areas and to identify the current supply, gaps and demands for childcare provision. The information collected by our experienced team is used to formulate key findings and recommendations for LAs, with the aim of addressing any identified barriers and strengthening overall provision across the county/borough.

Consultation with key stakeholders is a vital component of the assessment, and we will always work in collaboration with the LA to ensure the CSA is tailored to reflect the needs of local children, families and early years practitioners.

We’re looking to continue supporting LAs throughout the UK with support assessing the quality and accessibility of childcare in their local areas in order to improve the quality of early years experiences for children and parents/carers across the UK.


Methodology


Our CSA work typically utilises a wide range of methods to allow us to conduct thorough, extensive research such as the following:

• Desk-based research of secondary data to include local demographic and socioeconomic analysis

• Consultation with LA maintained and/or PVI childcare providers including registered childminders

• Consultation with parents/carers through focus groups/interviews/surveys

• Reporting of key findings, gaps analysis and recommendations/action plan.


Recent CSA and early years work


Our recent CSA work has had a specific focus on assessing the following:

• The current free entitlements for 2-year-olds and 3-4-year-olds

• Local sufficiency in preparation for the expansion of free entitlements and wrap-around childcare offer

• Affordability of childcare provision

• The quality and accessibility of childcare provision

• Children with SEND and complex medical needs

• Evident forthcoming gaps in early years childcare supply aligned to population projections

• Quality assessment using Ofsted grades, providers with met/not met grade, comparing inspection grades over time and comparisons with statistical neighbours.

Some of our most recent work has included conducting CSAs for Enfield Council in 2020-2023 and Wrexham Council in 2021-2022.

For Enfield Council, our research has previously focused on understanding how the COVID-19 lockdown affected childcare sufficiency and centred our data collection and analysis around this impact. Our expert consultants used structured interviews with all PVI settings, online surveys with parents and carers, and a sample of childminders to gather necessary data. In addition, we have been assessing the local need for wrap-around childcare provision and extended free entitlements in line with plans for the national expansion programme.

For Wrexham council, PAG was commissioned to update the findings of the 2017 Childcare Sufficiency Assessment, and focused on understanding and assessing the needs of childcare settings as well as parental demand for places at the local level. Our team used primary research including different forms of consultation, the Self-Assessment of Service Statement data completed by childcare providers, the Care Inspectorate Wales, and online surveys with children and parents. Our research helped to identify gaps and areas for improvement, such as the rising costs of childcare, insufficient hours, the effects of the pandemic on childcare, and a lack of Welsh language provision.

Alongside the above, we’ve supported many other LAs with CSAs and have worked on several other sufficiency assessments such as SEND sufficiency reviews, children’s centre reviews, new EYFS business feasibility studies, and more.


Testimonial


"PAG have been extremely responsive with all requests when carrying out Enfield’s CSA for Early Years and Wrapround care. The team are all extremely helpful and knowledgeable with regards to analysing data sets, and will always go the extra mile to support our delivery plans.

I would unquestionably recommend their services over and over again."

- Christiana Kromidias, Early Years Manager, Enfield Council


Conclusion


At PAG, we’re delighted to have been able to support these LAs with this vital work and grateful that our work has contributed towards improving childcare support for children and parents/carers in the UK.

If you’d like to speak with us regarding how we can support you with our CSA research, please get in contact with us here.