Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Availability of holiday childcare for disabled children continues to fall

There are significant gaps in the availability of holiday childcare in England, with drops across all categories of provision over the past year including provision for disabled children.

The Coram Family and Childcare’s 18th annual Holiday Childcare Survey found that under a quarter (24%) of local authorities have enough holiday childcare for parents working full-time, a decrease of 2% on 2022, and 23% have enough for children aged 8-11, a 7% decrease on last year.

Availability of holiday childcare for disabled children has also continued to fall, with just 5% of local authorities reporting they have enough to meet local demand, down from 7% in 2022.

It also found that the cost of holiday childcare across Great Britain has continued to rise, with a 3% increase since 2022. A place at a holiday club now costs an average of £157 per week, which is 2.3 times higher than what parents pay for an after-school club during term time. This means that families face costs of £943 for six weeks of holiday childcare for each school age child – £538 more than they would pay for six weeks of after-school childcare during term time.

There are significant differences in the cost and availability of holiday childcare depending on where families live, with parents in inner London paying up to 25% more for places than those in the East of England (£177 per week compared to £142). There are also huge price differences within the same area, for example in the East Midlands, where some holiday childcare places cost 104% more than the national average, while others are 58% less.

Improve the accessibility of SEND holiday childcare

The charity is also calling on the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments to:

  • Improve the accessibility of holiday childcare for children with SEND through providing funding, training and support to holiday childcare providers, trialling different approaches through the school holiday activity and food programmes running in each nation
  • Increase support for Family Information Services to provide good quality holiday childcare information and broker access to local provision that meets families’ needs
  • Expand provision of school holiday activity and food programmes running in each nation to improve access to affordable, high quality childcare for all children who need it, prioritising children with SEND.

Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “The high of cost of holiday childcare is going to put a further strain on families’ already stretched budgets. Even if families are able to afford these costs, many will struggle to find a place as we have found shortages right across the country.

“Starting school doesn’t mean that childcare needs end. Instead, many find that it becomes more challenging to find options that are right for their family, particularly during the long school holidays. New Government funding to help improve childcare options during term time is welcome – but families need childcare right through the year.”


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