Labour's new childcare policies are nothing but ridiculous fairy tales

Myth number two offered up by Ms Powell was that more childcare will “narrow
the gap between the most vulnerable children and their peers”. There is no
evidence to support this. In fact, Sure Start was evaluated by the
Department of Education in December 2010. It found that although there were
benefits to parental behaviour “only in the case of physical health did
children directly benefit”. There was no discernible effect to “school
readiness” as measured by the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Early years education for older children has been repeatedly used a stalking
horse by politicians of all shades to garner support for ever increasing
childcare for infants and toddlers. They should be not be conflated and to
do so is a manipulation of the evidence and parents. In fact, group
childcare for long hours for small children has been shown to have some
impact on their emotional well-being and can increase the cortisol levels
(stress hormone) of some children. (If you’re looking for proof, see:
Dettling et al. (1999 and 2000) Ahnert and Lamb (2004), Geoffrey et al.
(2006) Vermeer et al. (2006) and Megan Gunnar (2010).)

I usually don’t refer to research as I have no wish to create even more
pressure for working mums who may well have to work for economic reasons.
But when a politician implies that group childcare is a positive good it
must be challenged. Ms Powell and Labour childcare policies, in particular,
should be exposed for the fairy tales and myths that they are.

We should be working towards a system where families have real choice when it
comes to how they care for their children – and not a system that is stacked
against families who wish to for children at home.

Laura Perrins is a former barrister and stay at home mother with two
small children who campaigns for Mothers
at Home Matter
. Follow her on Twitter @LPerrins

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Labour's new childcare policies are nothing but ridiculous fairy tales
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