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Let's Talk About Childcare Funding

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Childcare funding for the children’s activities sector has made the news recently. And it's made for some animated discussion among our board members. We asked Jane James (nee Maudsley), Little Voices Founder & CEO and CAA board member, to guest write this blog for us on this important issue.

Like me, I’m sure you found the recent article in The Guardian on the discussion around childcare funding that took place between Boris Johnson and Justine Roberts (co-founder of Mumsnet) rather thought-provoking.

There are many parents who actively choose to be stay-at-home carers while their children are very young. And this is why, personally, I welcome Boris’s suggestion of a scheme that would allow parents and carers of pre-school-aged children to spend their state-funded childcare allowance on children's activity classes.

Yes, parents will need to stay with their children – and in lots of cases, actively take part in the classes themselves – so this isn’t ‘childcare’. But alongside all the benefits their little ones are getting, the positive impact on parents’ wellbeing from these classes is becoming increasingly well-documented.

So anything the government can do to facilitate both of these things surely deserves urgent consideration.

And while I’m not suggesting it’s going to solve the childcare crisis, opeing up children's activities classes to be eligible for the childcare allowance will give parents more choice.

Childcare Funding and Wraparound Care

But what about funding for wraparound care? I’d also like to see it made easier for parents of older children to be able to spend their childcare funding on wraparound care. I run a national performing arts franchise, and alongside in-school lessons, we run lots of after-school and holiday clubs. Little Voices provides a highly-rewarding after-school activity for children, while also giving parents quality wraparound provision. And we're not the only children's activity to do this

Parents regularly ask us if they can use their childcare vouchers on our classes, and most of the time, we have to say no. Because unless our franchisees are registered voluntarily with OFSTED, we can’t accept the vouchers.

And the reality of becoming registered with OFSTED is that it can be a costly, paper-pushing exercise.

Let’s give parents real choice!

The children’s activities sector needs to be regulated, with much higher standards and levels of compliance across the board. And this is what the Children’s Activities Association (CAA) lives and breathes.

So, imagine a system where the government works in partnership with the CAA and expands childcare funding to be used with its accredited providers for after-school and holiday provision.

Parents would be able to extend their working hours when they need to, safe in the knowledge that their children are reaping the educational, physical, mental, and social benefits of structured, well-run, age-appropriate and fully compliant activities.

Fabulous outcomes

Activities that are run by people who are passionate about what they do and work tirelessly towards fabulous outcomes for every child. It’s a win-win as far as I can see.

So come on, UK leadership – let’s give parents real options!

Let’s facilitate a sector that gives families choices and allows parents to happily work if they need or want to. And let’s work in partnership to reach higher standards in the activities our children take part in.

Because the children’s activities sector is so important for their development, and far bigger than the current system allows for.

And because ultimately, we all want the same thing – a fabulous outcome for the next generation!

To find out more about the work the CAA is doing on our website here. Or email to Julia in Member Services and book in for a no-obligation chat about the benefits of joining us.

If you're an activities provider and you have a PR story to share or you'd like to contribute to our blog, drop Rachel a message at

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