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Child Care

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken to (a) train and (b) recruit people in the child care sector; and if he will make a statement. [128675]

I have been asked to reply.Child care is an important community resource, supporting parents to work, learn and study. Good quality child care supports better outcomes for children. A skilled and qualified child care workforce is essential to meet our objective to increase the availability of high quality child care for all age groups.We provide for the training of child care workers through the Learning and Skills Council, and through funding allocated to local authorities and their Early Years Development and Child care Partnerships. It is for local LSCs and local authorities to assess needs in their areas and develop plans to ensure the training delivered best meets them. We issued joint guidance with LSC to encourage local planning for workforce development.A national child care recruitment campaign has been running since 2000 to encourage people to consider a career in child care. It includes television and media advertising, a variety of customised information and materials, a national orderline and a website with order facility. Local authorities promote careers in child care using a range of materials and events, working with local partners such as Jobcentre Plus, Careers Services, providers and sector organisations to provide practical help to potential recruits.We issued guidance to local authorities in July 2003, including activities to promote training and recruitment. The General Sure Start Grant includes £129.9 million for workforce development for the two years 2004–06, which covers training and recruitment for child care and early years workers.