Childcare costs are unaffordable to many Londoners. Here, Rosa Schling introduces Childcare Voices, a podcast project to spotlight voices of people with lived experience of the childcare system, past and present. The podcast covers experiences ranging from families with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), to no recourse to public funds, single parents and childcare workers in nurseries or au pairs.
Childcare costs and poverty
Lack of high quality, affordable childcare and accessible early years education is a major cause of poverty and inequality. This is especially true in London.
We often hear stories in the news about how expensive childcare is and how that means many families are struggling to pay for it. We don’t tend to hear from people who can’t afford it at all. Many low income people are not eligible for the ‘free hours’ of childcare only given to working parents who earn a minimum amount a week. For some of the most vulnerable children, like those with no recourse to public funds or many disabled children, there are few suitable childcare options.
On top of this, many of the people working in childcare are low-paid. More than three in five are paid less than the Living Wage, further pushing people into poverty.
What can we learn from history?
Grow Your Own is a project that, with funding from Trust for London, is recording the history of how generations of Londoners have campaigned for better childcare in the capital. The project aims to share learning from the past with campaigners for a better system today.
As part of this project, Childcare Voices, a new podcast series, is showcasing diverse experiences and viewpoints on childcare, past and present. Each episode has been produced by a different person with lived experience of the childcare system. There are episodes focusing on the experiences of families with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), no recourse to public funds, single parents and childcare workers in nurseries or au pairs.
Episode spotlight: SINGLE PARENTS
Single parent campaigner Ruth Talbot talks about some of the challenges single parents face at the moment. Ruth investigates the history of discrimination against single parent families like hers, and asks what, if anything, has changed. She raises important questions about what will happen as the government brings in an ‘unworkable’ change to Universal Credit by increasing the work requirement for single parents to 30 hours a week. For Ruth, there's only one way out of the crisis: a fully funded childcare system.
Episode spotlight: ISOLATION AND SEND FAMILIES
Adeola Osunbade talks about her experience as a parent of a child with ‘special abilities’ and her work running community organisations in Newham, The 5es Development and Space4me, for families with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
Investigating the archives, Adeola finds examples of inspiring voluntary organisations that have aimed to be inclusive and meet the needs of families with SEND, but reflects that as non-statutory services they have been vulnerable to closure. In this clip Adeola talks about what kind of services families with SEND need, and speaks to some parents from Newham Parents Forum.
Adeola points out that if the government is serious about extending wrap around care for school age children they need to make it accessible to all children, including those with SEND. Personally, she would love to develop a SEND activity play bus.