Local authorities (LAs) have duties to secure a sufficient supply of early education and childcare, with a particular focus on the provision of childcare for disabled children, and ensure that all three- and four-year-olds have access to free places for 15 hours per week.  Evidence has shown that children with disabilities sometimes face challenges in accessing early education and childcare provision.

The Disabled Children's Access to Childcare (DCATCH)

The pilot scheme, Disabled Children’s Access to Childcare (DCATCH), was set up in ten LAs in September 2008 to identify and test ways of improving disabled children’s access to early education and childcare and reducing attitudinal barriers among parents and professionals.
A summary of the activity within the ten DCATCH pilots provides more information on the key focus of each pilot and a brief description of the project.

Roll-out

In 2010-11 funding is being provided to every LA to allow them to focus on one or more areas of improvement, depending on their local needs and priorities:

  • better data – estimating demand and monitoring take up
  • participation and feedback – consulting with families
  • improving information for families
  • supporting families to make choices
  • workforce development
  • increasing capacity, inclusion and improving quality
  • meeting particular childcare needs
  • affordability and cost

A number of resources are available to support LAs in the delivery of this programme:

Evaluation

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), in conjunction with the University of Bristol (Norah Fry Centre) and University of Warwick (School of Health and Social Studies), is carrying out an evaluation of the DCATCH pilot. It will report its findings in  Spring 2011.