Childcare Sufficiency Assessment
The fieldwork and research which informed the 2022 Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) Childcare Sufficiency Assessment was conducted during the period November 2021-January 2022. This report provides a snapshot of childcare as of spring 2022. Multiple types of research and analysis were undertaken:
- Structured desk-based research
- Welsh Government parent Smart Survey
- Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) provided SASS data
- Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) with childcare providers
- Focus groups and in-depth interviews with parents
- Online Survey Monkey questionnaire with key stakeholders
- Online Survey Monkey questionnaire with employers
- Online Survey Monkey questionnaire with school, including headteachers, primary pupils and secondary pupils
Identification of key demographic and socio-economic issues
Structured desk-based research was conducted in order to identify demographic and socio-economic factors which will have a discernible influence on the sufficiency and suitability of existing and future provision of Early Years childcare and funded entitlements throughout the LA. This research focused on:
- Total number of children aged 0 – 4 years accessing childcare in each ward according and the approximate number of children aged 0 – 14 years resident in Pembrokeshire
- Numbers of children forecast to be resident in Pembrokeshire by 2026 and local birth rates
- Pembrokeshire international migration and internal migration inflows and outflows trends
- Incidence of employment and unemployment in Pembrokeshire
- Incidence of children in Pembrokeshire living in out-of-work benefit claimant households and low-income households
- Incidence of lone parent families
- Average household income by ward and Middle Super Output Area (MSOA)
- Ethnicity of children above the age of 5
- Incidence of children with additional learning needs (ALN)
- Welsh language data.
A range of sources were used to conduct research, including ONS, Stats Wales, the Department for Education (DfE), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
SASS and Telephone Survey with Providers
Our primary methodology for data collection from Early Years and childcare providers in the Pembrokeshire CSA was structured telephone interviews. PAG’s team of researchers interviewed a range of providers across the county using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software, following a questionnaire written by PAG and approved by the Council.
Three types of Early Years and childcare providers were interviewed:
- Representatives of children’s childcare providers for the Early Years sector in Pembrokeshire, including nurseries and pre-schools
- Registered childminders.
A total of 93 providers, 22 full day care, 21 sessional day care, 5 out of school provisions and 45 childminders completed the survey. This ensured full coverage across the county to balance the data throughout the process.
Interviewers asked specific questions regarding sufficiency whilst also allowing for more open discussion that gave providers the opportunity to express their experiences, thoughts, and concerns. Questions covered the supply and demand for childcare, including the vacancies and waiting lists for different types of places, as well as:
- Observed and anticipated trends the supply of and demand for Early Years childcare by type over the 5-year period since the last CSA
- How Early Years childcare providers believe the council could best/better support them, including from the perspective of sustainability, financial assistance and training
- The supply of childcare offer places in addition to foundation phase nursery and Flying Start
- The number of Welsh-medium childcare places filled and available, plus information about childcare provision in other languages
- The times at which childcare is available and numbers of childcare providers offering flexible childcare hours
- The range of services offered by childcare providers e.g., full day care provision may provide a range of services such as full day nursery, play group wrap around etc.
- The range of session lengths and range of charges offered by providers.
For day care providers for whom completing a structured telephone interview was not possible, due to increased demands or unavailability of staff caused by COVID-19, or being unable to reach them via phone, an alternative Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI) was offered. This followed the same interview format and questions as the CATI interview, via a weblink which providers could access and complete in their own time.
Welsh Government Survey and Focus Groups with Parents
As part of our consultation, we also considered the demand for childcare by analysing the needs of parents/carers, identified through a survey undertaken by Welsh Government as a Smart Survey at local authority (LA) level.
This was supplemented with focus groups involving parents/carers who may face barriers to childcare. These sessions were undertaken with the following groups:
- Working parents and parents seeking work or training opportunities, ensuring coverage of a wide range of occupations
- Unemployed households, low-income families
- Lone parent families
- Families from ethnic minority backgrounds
- Families with children who have Additional Learning Needs (ALN)
- Families whose first language is Welsh.
Each focus group session lasted 45 minutes and included four to ten participants per group. This ensured that each participant had the time to contribute and share their thoughts.
The focus groups were designed in a way that encouraged parents/carers to discuss their experiences with childcare whilst also capturing several key demographic data points focusing on:
- Perceived and actual barriers to take-up
- Parental preferences for the settings in which they place their children
- Why eligible parents/carers are not accessing their funded entitlements
- Local childcare provision for children with ALN.
Online survey with Headteachers and Pupils
In addition to consulting with parents/carers, we created a child-friendly online survey for children and young people, with separate primary and secondary school surveys. The surveys asked children and young people about after-school provision, with a specific focus on access, availability and whether their preferred options were available. Surveys were also provided for headteachers of the schools, with questions around wraparound care including breakfast clubs and after-school provision.
Online survey with Stakeholders and Employers
PAG consulted with a range of stakeholders, including persons with interest in childcare and their representatives, local employers and persons representing them and employer organisations and neighbouring LAs, to gather their views on the local economy, barriers to childcare that may affect the workforce and emerging trends across the past few years. We consulted with a range of employers across various industries to provide the most representative sample possible within the timeframe.
Stakeholder and employer consultation was undertaken through an online survey available in both English and Welsh. The online survey was designed using Survey Monkey and emailed to stakeholders and employers identified through a stakeholder mapping exercise.
Gaps Analysis and Recommendations
Upon completion of the consultation phase, PAG wrote a summary of our findings regarding the sufficiency of places across the LA. We applied various techniques to derive an accurate report on current gaps in childcare sufficiency throughout the authority by mapping supply to demand. We subsequently analysed, by specific/appropriate age groups, the range and diversity of provision available in the county.
Based on this analysis, PAG has provided further strategic recommendations for how the Council could address gaps in supply or demand and address the impact of COVID-19. PAG will draft a detailed action plan in collaboration with the Council, which the Council will be able to implement immediately. This will include a series of recommendations that lay out achievable, realistic actions based on value for money that the Council can implement