HALF OF West Midlands parents struggle to access pre-school child development and parenting support according to Action for Children.
A report by the charity warns of a growing crisis facing children under five who have not been able to attend children’s centres, family hubs and other non-childcare programmes like baby and toddler groups.
The study also found more than a quarter, 28 per cent, had no access to these services.
Action For Children said funding pressures have impacted the provision of early years services over recent years as nationally, the main barrier, 27 per cent, to accessing support was that the services were simply not available in local areas, with over a quarter West Midlands parents agreeing.
According to the charity financial barriers were prevalent for parents polled as the cost-of-living crisis worsens and parents who weren’t within walking distance of services cited the cost of petrol or public transport as their biggest challenge.
A survey conducted by the charity found common worries from West Midlands parents about the impact of being unable to access early years support include their own mental health and emotional wellbeing, their child’s ability to make friends and socialise and their child’s ability to meet developmental milestones i.e. walking, talking, toilet training.
The charity is calling on the new Prime Minister to ensure every family has access to key early years services in their local area as a core part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda with sustained investment for parenting support.
Imran Hussain, Action for Children’s director of policy and campaigns, said: “Every child deserves a chance at having the best start in life, that’s why we’re worried that disadvantaged children are being blocked from accessing the services that allow them to catch up and level up for when they start school.
“We know from our own frontline services that helping families as early as possible is more effective in the long-run so investing in high quality child support and parenting programmes in every community should be a core part of the ‘levelling-up’ agenda.
“We urge the next Prime Minister to take urgent action to deliver a long-term plan for early years services with sustained investment in parenting support to ensure every child in the West Midlands and across the country gets the foundations they need to thrive.”