CHANGE Bulletin 16th March 2018

Sharing is caring!

CHANGE Weekly Bulletin 16th March 2018

The year one evaluation of CHANGE has now been completed. Our evaluation partners at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health have profiled the CHANGE project area and carried out primary research with parents/carers and local professionals. Overall, the evaluation aims to explore the impacts of creating a co-produced childcare model in our project area, specifically assessing: changes in the uptake of childcare for 0-12 year old children in the project area; impacts on family wellbeing; perceptions of neighbourhood-based services, and access to social, recreational and economic opportunities for those families

Emerging findings summary: CHANGE year one evaluation

The year one evaluation report describes how the population in the project area has changed over the past 40 years. An important consideration for CHANGE is that family structures have altered significantly, with lone parent households now making up at least half of all households with children in the area. The project covers some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland with high levels of child poverty, particularly in Parkhead and Dalmarnock (59%). The proportion of pre-school children with likely development difficulties, referrals to child and adolescent mental health services and levels of children with disabilities are all higher than Glasgow’s average.  

The evaluation team has gathered information on the number and type of early learning and childcare services for children aged 0 to 12 years in the project area. In October 2017, pre-school services in the area comprised six council nurseries, four private nurseries, four voluntary sector nurseries and four registered childminders. When the evaluation took place, these establishments provided a total of 980 pre-school places. There were  three registered childminders in the project area.

There were five out of school care providers in the project area with a working capacity of 163 places, catering for children from the age of four to 16 years of age (although the majority of users are primary school children). Overall there were 179 service users as at November 2017.

There were also seven youth, play and multipurpose services catering for children and young people from the age of four to 25 years of age. There were approximately 993 weekly service users (across 6 of the 7 services which provided data), although children attending different services on different days would be counted more than once.

In terms of pre-school children registered at local nurseries, there were 840 children with places at nurseries and a further 456 children who were on a waiting list (35%). Of these registrations, 1043 were for local children and a further 253 registrations (20%) were from children outwith the project area. A later data extract, from mid-January, showed that a substantial minority of local pre-school children use nurseries outwith the project area e.g. 29% of 4-year-olds were registered at 35 non-local nurseries. 

The waiting lists for places were almost all at local authority nurseries and were very high at particular nurseries e.g. 58% of children registered were on a waiting list at Parkhead Community Nursery, and at Silverdale Nursery the equivalent figure was 56%.

These points are discussed in a more detailed report on childcare provision and usage. Usage is influenced by differences in the distribution, type, capacity and cost of local nursery provision: all affect levels of registration. We also point to gaps in information which would help us to understand childcare usage better, including: costs of provision; numbers of hours of childcare taken up per child, and population information to assess equitable levels of childcare places for very vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and refugees. 

It is also clear that levels of registration fluctuate during the year due to the way the pre-school registration system is managed, and consideration is needed as to the most appropriate time of year to draw extracts to monitor childcare usage and to assess changes.

A face-to-face survey was carried out with 292 parents/carers at 16 childcare establishments and 56 parents and carers took part in focus groups. A key theme emerging from this work was that free childcare was welcomed by all the participating families. However, the current entitlement of 16 hours per week was not always enough for working parents and carers; some struggled either to pay for additional childcare to allow them to work or study, or to access informal childcare. Many had changed jobs or reduced their working hours to fit with the childcare they were able to access or could afford.

There was very positive feedback from the families receiving 30 hours per week of free childcare at Silverdale Nursery – a pilot site for the expansion of early learning and childcare being rolled out across Scotland. The additional hours were felt to be of great benefit to working or studying parents or carers and removed the stress experienced by families as a result of juggling formal and informal childcare.

The research found that the barriers to accessing childcare overlap with what has been found through talking to parents and carers in our engagement work. These include:

  • Flexibility
  • Affordability
  • Availability
  • Provision for children with additional support needs
  • Knowledge of the childcare system

Interviews were also carried out with professionals working in the CHANGE area. The interviews explored perceptions of current early learning and childcare provision, beliefs about what matters to families and the likely implications of more locally appropriate provision both for children and families and for the wider community. Emerging themes were similar to issues identified by parents and carers. It was felt that putting families at the centre of decision-making is crucial to developing a new model of early learning and childcare:

“…for real systems change the families need to be at the heart of that. We need that bottom up approach; they need to be at the centre of that and really encouraged by people working alongside them to drive that.”  – Interviewee.

Professionals stressed that real change to the delivery of early learning and childcare will only come about when families are engaged with and listened to. Engagement with parents and families was viewed as a crucial step in getting their views on what the new childcare model should look like, as well as part of a model of wider family support based on established trusting relationships.

One interviewee said:

 “I would prefer to see a nice model of somewhere that parents could go with their children and spend time with their children. Maybe not the whole time but some good quality time with their children where they’re spending time engaging in activities together as a wee family rather than having that well, you take the child, you go to work. You know?”

It is important that the CHANGE project team takes stock of these findings and reflects on how they are informing the project’s development. This summary has been drawn from fuller, in depth reports of findings: If you’d like any more information please get in touch.

Fiona Crawford, Bruce Whyte and Valerie McNeice

GCPH, March 2018