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The Government in England contributes an estimated £3.9 billion funding to support childcare and education for three- and four-year olds and for some two-year olds. A significant proportion of this money is spent on private sector childcare. However, little is known about how the money paid to companies providing private sector childcare is used. Through a cross-case analysis, the financial accounts of a sample of medium-to large private ‘for-profit’ childcare groups were compared with some ‘not-for-profit’ childcare providers. We found that for the for-profit companies, a considerable amount of money is being extracted for debt repayment and relatively little goes into staff wages. We found that large private for-profit nursery groups predominately use ‘private equity’ models which are characterised by borrowings and debt, with a focus on short-term financial returns. This ‘for-profit’ financial operating model arguably risks the sustainability of provision in the sector. Reformed regulation and transparency in the accounting of such providers and a consideration of alternative ‘not-for-profit’ financial models could provide greater stability and resilience.
Not enough is known in the UK about how economic phenomena and policy changes have impacted families’ ability to feed themselves. This article employs a novel way of identifying the types of UK families at risk of food poverty over time. Applying a relative deprivation approach, it asks what counts in the UK as a socially acceptable diet that meets needs for health and social participation and how much this costs. Comparing this to actual food expenditure by different family types, between 2005 and 2013, it identifies which are spending less than expected and may be at risk of food poverty. The analysis finds the proportion has increased over time for most family types and for lone parents and large families in particular. The discussion considers findings in light of changing economic and policy contexts and the implications for policy responses of how food poverty is defined and measured.
To examine two hypotheses about the longitudinal relationship between night-time parenting behaviours in the first few postnatal weeks and infant night-time sleep-waking at five weeks, three months and six months of age in normal London home environments.
Most western infants develop long night-time sleep periods by four months of age. However, around 20–30% of infants in many countries continue to sleep for short periods and cry out on waking in the night: the most common type of infant sleep behaviour problem. Preventive interventions may help families and improve services. There is evidence that ‘limit-setting’ parenting, which is common in western cultures, supports the development of settled infant night-time behaviour. However, this evidence has been challenged. The present study measures three components of limit-setting parenting (response delay, feeding interval, settling method), examines their stability, and assesses the predictive relationship between each of them and infant sleep-waking behaviours.
Longitudinal observations comparing a General-Community (n=101) group and subgroups with a Bed-Sharing (n=19) group on infra-red video, diary and questionnaire measures of parenting behaviours and infant feeding and sleep-waking at night.
Bed-Sharing parenting was highly infant-cued and stable. General-Community parenting involved more limit-setting, but was less stable, than Bed-Sharing parenting. One element of General-Community parenting – consistently introducing a short interval before feeding – was associated with the development of longer infant night-time feed intervals and longer day-time feeds at five weeks, compared with other General-Community and Bed-Sharing infants. Twice as many General-Community infants whose parents introduced these short intervals before feeding in the early weeks slept for long night-time periods at three months of age on both video and parent-report measures, compared with other General-Community and Bed-Sharing infants. The findings’ implications for our understanding of infant sleep-waking development, parenting programmes, and for practice and research, are discussed.
To provide descriptive figures for infant distress and associated parenting at night in normal London home environments during the first three months of age.
Most western infants develop long night-time sleep periods by four months of age. However, 30% of infants in many countries sleep for short periods and cry out on waking in the night: the most common type of infant sleep behaviour problem. Preventive interventions may help families and improve services. There is evidence that ‘limit-setting’ parenting, which is common in western cultures, supports the development of settled infant night-time behaviour. However, a recent review has challenged this and argued that this form of parenting risks distressing infants. This study describes limit-setting parenting as practiced in London, compares it with ‘infant-cued’ parenting and measures the associated infant distress.
Longitudinal infrared video, diary and questionnaire observations comparing a General-Community (n=101) group and subgroups with a Bed-Sharing (n=19) group on measures of infant and parenting behaviours at night.
General-Community parents took longer to detect and respond to infant waking and signalling, and to begin feeding, compared with the highly infant-cued care provided by Bed-Sharing parents. The average latency in General-Community parents’ responding to infant night-time waking was 3.5 min, during which infants fuss/cried for around 1 min. Compared with Bed-Sharing parenting, General-Community parenting was associated with increased infant distress of around 30 min/night at two weeks, reducing to 12 min/night by three months of age. However, differences in infant distress between General-Community subgroups adopting limit-setting versus infant-cued parenting were not large or statistically significant at any age. The figures provide descriptive evidence about limit-setting parenting which may counter some doubts about this form of parenting and help parents and professionals to make choices.