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Education inspectorate Ofsted have recently reported that a fall in childminders in England has finally begun to reverse, with figures now showing an increase since September of last year. However, still no ground has been made in the development of non-domestic childcare premises, despite the property market reporting a healthy interest in day nurseries, against all the trend of stagnation.
At a time when parents, particularly mothers, are said to represent a disenchanted part of the electorate – with his own party having made Prime Minister David Cameron aware that they are disappointed in policies that put off female voters – there is hope that, though the Government has had its hands full on other domestic matters, such as health and social care, that a significant amount of pressure has risen to convince the Coalition that children and parents need to be at the forefront of any new policy-making. Indeed, neither party has any wish to look absent on the issue, with the Liberal Democrats having begun their time in Government on a mission to end child detention, which they still boast of as a key success.
In terms of re-gathering momentum, however, campaigners will find a variety of related but competing issues vying for attention, such as reforms to child social care agendas and the availability of foster care. It remains likely that an increase in childcare provision will not become a priority and, therefore, that the sourcing of nursery services will remain an anxious procedure for many new parents, with admission processes often affected by high demand and working-life flexibility inevitably suffering as a consequence. It is these very concerns that have led to the National Childminding Association making an appeal to politicians for a keener focus on childcare provision, believing that cuts are a false economy if they only lead to more parents choosing not to work.