sense-logo-300x240National disability charity, Sense, has responded to the news that the Labour Party intends to launch an early years taskforce looking into childcare provision and early-years learning.

The taskforce, announced by shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, as part of this year’s Labour Party Conference, will aim to ensure that all children and parents have access to quality, affordable childcare.

Sense, a charity which supports and campaigns on behalf of children and adults with sensory impairments and complex needs, has been calling on the Government to ensure better access to specialist early years support for disabled children. Earlier this year, Sense led an inquiry into play provision for children with multiple needs, which highlighted a number of barriers currently preventing disabled children from accessing vital early years and play settings.

Kate Fitch, Head of Public Policy for national disability charity, Sense, said:

“We welcome the news that the Labour Party intends to set up a taskforce specifically looking at access to childcare and early years provision, as it signals a recognition of the important role that these factors play in ensuring that children have the best start in life.

“Access to good quality early education plays a vital role in the development of children with complex needs; however as our Play Inquiry earlier this year revealed, all too often disabled children are missing out on the opportunities they need due to insufficient funding or a lack of appropriate settings.

“With the arrival of the new 30 hours free childcare initiative, without careful Governmental consideration and funding, families of disabled children could find themselves further side-lined as providers struggle to meet the additional costs of offering places to children with complex needs.

“In order to ensure that disabled children are not left unable to access opportunities to develop and learn, Sense is calling for a nationwide policy of early education funding for children with special education needs, that includes notional funding to help providers meet the costs of staff training or making premises accessible.

“With a new funding formula for early years set to be announced, it is imperative that both the Government and opposition urgently start working towards levelling the playing field for disabled children, which is why we look forward to working with Labour’s early years taskforce to ensure that all children have the chance to fulfil their potential.”