Flexibility in childcare
This book is one of the main outputs from the PACE (Providing Access to Childcare and Employment) project. This European project tested new models of making childcare and employment more accessible for families living in vulnerable conditions, at distance from childcare and employment, including single parent families, families with a non-European background, a low education level and low income. When parents want to start an education, training or a route towards employment, they often have barriers to address, including health, housing, mobility and language barriers. Another main barrier for parents with young children is childcare. We have found that current childcare systems are not well-equipped to meet the needs of families who start a trajectory to employment. Most early years settings expect regularity and continuity. It is difficult to find childcare at short notice, during brief periods or at non-standard hours. This lack of flexibility is a barrier that adds to existing structural barriers that lower access to childcare for vulnerable families. In PACE, 13 project partners in four countries examined what is needed to make childcare more flexible and at the same time create comfort for children, families and staff. The book ‘Flexibility in childcare’ explains why more flexibility in childcare is needed. It also looks into how a more flexible, holistic form of childcare can be organised, describing 5 prototypes. Finally, the book looks into what actions organisations can take to make flexible childcare sustainable on the business side, to assure pedagogical quality and a warm environment for the whole family, to support staff members and to cooperate with other stakeholders.
The book is available in three languages, open source. We believe that it can be a valuable resource for any policy makers, academics and early years providers and teams interested in working in a more holistic and flexible manner. The book contains a lot of background, context and theory, many concrete examples from the PACE project and hands-on advice on how to make a setting work more flexibly and holistically, including advice on the business side, working with families, teams and in collaboration with other services.