THE future of childcare in Sunderland is being shaped by hundreds of parents who took part in a major study.
Sunderland City Council says it had an overwhelming response from more than 800 parents and carers to a research project examining the childcare services currently available in the city.
Based on the findings, the authority will begin a two-week consultation as part of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment.
Councillor Pat Smith, Portfolio Holder for Children and Learning City with Sunderland City Council, said: “The response to this citywide assessment has been overwhelming and it has allowed us to capture a really detailed picture of where we are doing well in terms of childcare provisions in Sunderland and what we can improve upon.
“Every person who took part in the survey has helped to contribute to the improvement of childcare across the city and we are very grateful for their support in this assessment.”
Initial findings from the survey show that 80 per cent of families in Sunderland use some form of childcare and 93 per cent of this group are either satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of service they are receiving.
Reasons identified for using childcare are so parents can work and that giving children the opportunity to socialise with their peers is good for their development.
All local authorities are required to carry out a Childcare Sufficiency Assessment every three years to monitor the need for childcare in their area and respond to changes in demand.
As a thank-you for taking part, all parents and carers involved in the survey were entered into a prize draw to win £100 of High Street vouchers.
Lucky mum Claire Wallace, 25, from Houghton, was picked at random to receive the prize.
She said: “It was a real surprise when I was told that I had won. I was happy to take part in the survey as I think it’s important parents are involved in the development of their children’s care.
“My twins, Kyle and Ryan, both attended nursery and my youngest son, Aaron, is now also in childcare which he really enjoys. I’ve found Sunderland’s childcare services to be really good.
“They help me to enjoy some time to myself after running around after three young boys all day.
“Parents and carers have the first-hand experience of using services so it’s important for us to have a say in what else we think children could benefit from and how services are delivered.”