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Mini enquiry on child poverty involves Council staff

The latest community mini enquiry hosted by the Council  has helped gather a better understanding of the barriers people face when accessing childcare.

Our top priorities include tackling child poverty and supporting residents through the Cost-of-living Crisis.

The three key drivers of child poverty are income from employment, income from social security and the cost of living.

Around 50 people from a variety of community groups, Council services and partner organisations attended the Childcare Mini Enquiry – set up as a forum to share ideas and information – at Ardeer Community Centre in Stevenston.

This event was the most recent in a series of mini enquiries that are part of the work of the Child Poverty and Cost of Living Board, chaired by Council Leader Marie Burns. Feedback will also help develop the Council’s Child Poverty Strategy.

Corry Mcdonald, a Senior Manager with North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) gave case study examples at the event, showing how things are going well and demonstrating how childcare plays a vital role in tackling child poverty.

She spoke about a five-year-old boy called Daniel who is cared for by his grandparents – who get social work support –  in kinship care. After-school provision has allowed the couple to keep their jobs and they receive additional support through the short break scheme and play therapy.

The well-attended event at Ardeer Community Centre involved Council staff from across the different services

This combination of support has helped keep Daniel with family members he knows and trusts, and Corry added: “Without this support, Daniel could have become a care-experienced child.”

Andrew Scholbread, from the Scottish Out of School Care Network (SOSCN) was also among speakers on the day, and he highlighted how, in addition to allowing parents to access training and employment, children have a right to childcare, it enhances their life experience and is also great for their health and wellbeing.

“The fact that we are having this conversation is so important because access to childcare is everybody’s problem to solve. North Ayrshire is ahead of the curve, and today is evidence of that.

“Not only parents on low or no income are struggling to access childcare, it is also an issue for families on good incomes and we may be pushing people back into poverty.”

A recent SOSCN parental survey found that being unable to access school-age childcare led to more stress, a reduction in household income and people having to cut back on work hours.

Groups on the day held round-table discussions on what is going well, what can be improved and what gaps exist in provision. Issues flagged up included:

  • The registration process for early-years services being too complicated, and the paperwork and bureaucracy involved being overwhelming for some parents
  • More awareness needed to ensure parents know what their entitlement to early years provision is
  • More breakfast clubs are needed, as children are arriving at school hungry and these – along with after-school clubs – these need to be more affordable and available across North Ayrshire and
  • A shortage of reliable, registered childminders. Five previous mini enquiries have focused on: employability; access to food; specific issues on Arran and Cumbrae and No Wrong Door – which is an approach geared towards ensuring residents who ask for Cost-of-Living information are directed to the correct support, regardless of who they ask within the Council or partner organisations.
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