Evaluation of Extended Schools Childcare and Childcare Taster Pilots

Funded by: Department for Education and Skills

Duration:

June 2004 to October 2004

PSI researchers:


Genevieve Knight

Background, summary and aims

The chief aim is understanding the impact of the Childcare Taster Pilot and Extended Schools Childcare Pilot. These pilots were developed to address particular issues related to lone parents, workless couples, work and childcare. The pilots will be running from 1 April 2004 until 31 March 2006 in Bradford, Haringey and Lewisham local authorities. Additional pilots will run from October 2004 in other areas in England, these plan to be Greenwich, Leicester, Leicestershire, Sandwell, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Rochdale for CTP and Greenwich, Leicester, Leicestershire, Sandwell for ESCP, and it is expected that some areas in Scotland and Wales will also be added.

Extended Schools Childcare Pilot (ESCP) is a pilot initiative. It is separate from Extended Schools , which is a broader DfES initiative, for which pathfinders have been running since 2002-3. The aim of Extended Schools is to encourage schools to offer a whole range of extended services, of which childcare may be one. 'Extended schools' are schools which provide services for their pupils and the local community beyond the school day.

These provide an opportunity for parents to talk over childcare issues in depth (termed Childcare Chats), visit childcare providers and, crucially, have a free experience of formal childcare (Childcare Taster).

The project is conducted by PSI with field research by BMRB Social Research. In this project, qualitative and survey research is combined.

Initial stage

An initial report of early findings from qualitative research with stakeholders in the first 3 pilot areas, covering the period to July 2004 is due to be published by DFES December 2004. The initial stage aimed to explore the arrangements which had been put in place so far in the three areas in which the pilot had begun: Haringey, Lewisham and Bradford. In addition, the research examined a range of stakeholders' views about the goals and content of the pilots and drew out the experience and ideas which could be helpful for both the existing and new pilots.

The research was undertaken in June and July 2004, approximately three months after the pilots started. Thirty-six qualitative interviews were carried out with stakeholders across the three areas. The research included staff from the local authorities, Jobcentre Plus, Children's Information Service, schools and childcare providers.

Mainstage

The quantitative survey element has been split into two stages, the postal and follow-up survey. We have put together a recommended design of an initial postal survey among lone parents on IS. Then a follow-up survey among a sub-sample of the postal survey respondents, conducted either by telephone or face-to-face. The two stage approach allows coverage of the wider population, as well as the ability to focus on specific groups of interest in more detail.

For the main stage qualitative work will be carried out with stakeholders, and parents including partners of benefit claimants involved, lone parent participants, and non-participants who were referred after inquiries. Any cost effectiveness analysis would need to utilise the qualitative research with stakeholders.

Impact analyses

The econometric analysis of the impact on employment is examined in a separate project led by Mike Brewer of IFS, where it is to be estimated together with that of several other overlapping lone parent pilots using administrative data.