American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2017, 5(7), 794-800
DOI: 10.12691/education-5-7-16
Open AccessArticle

Is Targeting Formal Childcare the Best Way to Meet the Needs of Families in Britain?

Antonia Simon1, , Charlie Owen1 and Katie Hollingworth1

1Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education, London, England

Pub. Date: July 24, 2017

Cite this paper:
Antonia Simon, Charlie Owen and Katie Hollingworth. Is Targeting Formal Childcare the Best Way to Meet the Needs of Families in Britain?. American Journal of Educational Research. 2017; 5(7):794-800. doi: 10.12691/education-5-7-16


The overall aim of this paper is to examine the types and combinations of childcare being used by parents in Britain, and to compare how this childcare usage may vary between families, in order to critically examine parental childcare needs. The three specific research questions were: 1) ‘What types and combinations of childcare are being used by families?’, 2) ‘What are the socio-demographic comparisons between families using and not using childcare?’ And 3) ‘How do types of childcare vary between families?. These questions were addressed by carrying out a secondary analysis of large-scale nationally representative datasets which provide information about patterns of childcare usage in the UK. Two main datasets were used: the Family Resources Survey and the Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents, with analysis carried out for the years 2008 to 2013. The analysis carried out comes from a wider study seeking to examine the provision and use of preschool childcare in Britain. The findings show that despite policies to increase the use of formal childcare, parents continue to be reliant on informal care, especially grandparents, to supplement their childcare needs. Furthermore, childcare use is not equally distributed, but is related to family circumstances. For example formal care is used more by employed, higher income families, whilst informal care is used more by mothers who are not employed, less well educated and by younger mothers. The results overall suggest that formal and informal childcare in combination will better support maternal employment. Future government policy needs to address supporting this mixed provision. The data however says nothing about parental childcare preferences which are needed to unpack the observed patterns of childcare usage in the UK.

early childhood education childcare early childhood policy secondary analysis

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