Parents need comparison website for childcare providers, says think-tank
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The government should set up a comparison website for childcare providers to drive-up quality and engage parents, a think-tank has said.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said parents need to be able to go online and provide feedback and user satisfaction levels for other families to be able to choose the best local providers.
The call comes on the back of research conducted by IPPR which questioned 104 low-income parents from across the UK in a series of workshops. The aim of the research was to identify parents who do not normally access early years provision and who live in poverty or are at risk of falling into poverty.Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said: "Parents need to know before they send their children to a nursery whether other parents think it is any good. One of the best ways to drive up the quality of nurseries and other childcare providers is to have a national website where parents can rate them."
He added that a national site for parents would build on Ofsted ratings and parenting websites such as Mumsnet.
But Claire Schofield, policy director at the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said while it is important for parents to access information, visiting a nursery is the best way to see if it suits them.
"It is important that parents can access information about childcare options and local authorities still have a duty to provide this," Schofield said. "It is important that parents recognise that childcare is unique and while the views of other parents are of course helpful, different nurseries will suit different children.
"NDNA would be concerned if such a website worked in the same way as a price comparison website that ranks services according to cost. Parents really need to understand the huge variety of factors that go into the cost of a nursery, and it would be extremely difficult to give an accurate indication when many nurseries operate a ‘sliding scale’ according to usage and discounts for siblings.
"It is important to look at how we can ensure the existing sources of advice can be enhanced so that parents can access information that is unbiased and helps them understand how they can make the right choice for their child."