The objective of this report is to understand why some parents who are entitled to use early years services don't normally do so.

Despite a great deal of expansion and investment in early years provision over the last decade in the UK, it is children from disadvantaged backgrounds - arguably with the most to gain - who use these services least. Their parents' voices are rarely heard in policy debates on early years provision, and so the recommendations presented here on universality, effective outreach and engagement with parents and rethinking workforce development respond to the concerns and views of these families. This offers policymakers an opportunity to ensure that early years provision can provide the very best opportunities for all children.

Early intervention is now a cornerstone of social policy, and high-quality early years services have been expanded in the UK and many other countries in recent years to help promote social mobility, reduce child poverty and narrow educational inequalities. Early years services (or childcare) also enable families to balance work and caring responsibilities and, in so doing, help to promote higher employment rates and reduce gender inequalities. They are, therefore, a key foundation of policy frameworks for achieving social justice more widely.

Download the Parents at the Centre slide pack for service providers, with findings and recommendations on engaging with parents.