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Child Care

Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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16.

What progress is being made to provide child care for parents seeking work. [108720]

Since 1997, about 650,000 new child care places have been created, benefiting over 1.1 million children, which means that we are well on track to meeting our target of creating new places for over two million children by 2006. From this month, a child care partnership manager will be working in every Jobcentre Plus office to ensure that barriers to employment relating to child care are tack led and to encourage customers, where sensible, to consider a career in child care.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. She knows that I am fully aware of how much the Government have done to support families and, in particular, child care for parents in work and those seeking work. Will she consider the issue for lone parents, especially the need to settle their children in child care before they begin work as well as the necessary payments to cover that period? In addition, will she consider low-paid workers, in particular lone parents, who may find themselves out of work through no fault of their own? What measures can be taken to ensure that their children remain in settled child care before they embark again on a new job?

My hon. Friend is right that parents, particularly lone parents, when considering going to work need to feel that their children are safe and in an appropriate environment. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget last week the idea of taster weeks to allow lone parents to check out child care provision so that they are sure that it is appropriate for their child before taking it up and going to work.