Childcare focus groups

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Purpose The Lancashire Family Information Service (FIS) aims to provide quality, accessible and impartial advice and guidance on a full range of childcare and family support services.

Focus groups were used to help understand how people use childcare in Lancashire, what the barriers to using formal childcare are, what people want from the Family Information Service and how people think the FIS should be advertised.

The groups were also used to test some poster ideas for a campaign to promote free early years entitlement.
Subject Communications
Families and younger children
Commissioned by Family Information Service and Communications Service
Geographic area Chorley
Method Focus group
Consultation with Parents/carers
Date 01/11/2011 - 25/11/2011
Undertaken by Corporate Research and Intelligence Team


Key findings Use of childcare:
- Many participants use formal childcare to enable them to work or attend training
- Some participants that don't work still use some formal childcare to improve their child's social development.
- Participants have issues with the high cost of their childcare arrangements and the hours that providers are available not fitting with their work arrangements.
- The main barriers to using childcare are a lack of suitable places available, high cost and lack of trust. In particular, participants who are first-time parents are wary of leaving their child in formal childcare until the child can talk and let them know if there are problems.

Sources of information on childcare:
- Participants used the county council/FIS, Yellow Pages, recommendations from other providers, recommendations from friends and support groups and the internet to get their information on childcare.
- The main issues with the information on childcare available is the accuracy of the information and the amount of information provided upfront (eg online or through leaflets). Participants also struggled to find OFSTED reports for
childminders and to easily compare prices of providers as each provider includes different things in their quoted price.

Family Information Service:
- Participants, particularly those that work full-time, felt that the FIS provides a useful service which should be promoted as many hadn't previously heard of the service.
- Participants would like to see a searchable database of childcare providers on the FIS website as well as information on family activities, school holiday clubs and funding for childcare.
- Several participants that had used the FIS had found the information provided to be either insufficient in detail or inaccurate.

Outcomes The research helped inform the message for the campaign and highlighted what parents use childcare for.

Project document(s)


Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Rebecca Robinson
01772 537787

Mick Edwardson
01772 530290


Related information

Find out more about the Family Information Service here: