Childcare Development and Sustainability Service Consultation

Bristol City Council is inviting feedback on proposals for the future of the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service (CDSS), and these proposals are outlined in our draft commissioning strategy. The draft strategy sets out how and why the council plans to continue to commission the service and sets out the wider information about childcare in Bristol, which has informed our proposed approach.

We would like to hear from parents and carers, organisations that develop and support childcare, childcare providers and the general public to help shape any final decisions.

What is the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service?

The overall aim of the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service is to support families, children and young people by making sure they can access high quality, sustainable and affordable childcare.  It does this by:
  • Developing new childcare provision
  • Making childcare provision more sustainable (or future-proof)
  • Improving the quality of childcare provision
The service also helps us fulfil the council’s statutory childcare duties, including the duty to ensure there is enough childcare available across Bristol for working parents of children aged 0-14, or 0-18 for children with a disability.

The service has also been supporting the childcare sector through the financial and practical challenges of COVID-19, which have had a significant and sustained impact on childcare providers throughout the city.

How is the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service currently delivered?

Under current arrangements, a single provider has had a contract with the council to deliver the CDSS since January 2019. This current arrangement was the subject of a public consultation in 2018, while significant savings were being sought across the council. The feedback to the consultation in 2018 made clear the need for training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for childcare providers to remain part of the CDSS despite the need to make savings, therefore the council ensured that these continued to be offered as part of the service. You can find out more about this consultation and how the feedback helped shape the current service here.
What are we proposing?

The current CDSS contract ends in December 2021 and we are proposing to commission a similar service for one year, with the option to extend for a further year. There is no proposed change to the overall budget of £305,000 per year for this service and we are proposing limited changes to the overall service. We are not proposing significant changes, so that we can provide consistency for childcare providers through COVID-19 and so that we can continue to deliver high quality childcare across Bristol.

You can give us your views on our proposals by completing this survey. It should take you about 10 minutes to complete.

The executive summary is available here, and the full draft commissioning strategy is available here.

We have summarised the proposed aims, commissioning priorities and procurement recommendations for the CDSS in the survey.  

If you have any questions about this survey, please contact the Children’s Commissioning Team at

1. What best describes you?

The proposed aims of the CDSS commissioning strategy 
The proposed aims of the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service commissioning strategy are to:
  • Increase early years and childcare provision in areas where provision is not sufficient to meet parental needs
  • Support new and existing providers in meeting all the legal and other obligations to provide childcare, such as Ofsted registration 
  • Improve the skillset of the early years, childcare and play workforce by providing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses
  • Engage childcare providers in professional networks and partnership working to ensure the provision for the local families they support is sufficient and consistent
  • Ensure childcare providers have robust business plans in place so they can provide an affordable and sustainable service
  • Ensure childcare providers increase their awareness of funding and fundraising opportunities and increase their ability to make the most of those opportunities
  • Working with childcare providers and parents to ensure childcare places are available when and where parents need them, and to ensure enough children are attending to keep childcare providers financially secure and able to plan for the future 
  • Support providers to continuously improve the quality of childcare provision including provision for children from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, children living in areas of deprivation, and disabled children and young people

2. To what extent do you agree or disagree with proposed aims of the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service commissioning strategy as outlined above?


3. Do you have any comments on the proposed aims, including any aims you would add to the list?

The proposed commissioning priorities of the CDSS commissioning strategy

The aims of the service (above) set out how the service will work with childcare providers in practice.  These aims are underpinned by more high-level, strategic priorities. Bristol City Council’s priorities in commissioning the CDSS are to:
  • Support the continued provision of high-quality and safe childcare
  • Develop a service that is more focused on addressing the challenges of COVID-19 for childcare providers
  • Support the One City Plan objectives of increasing the affordability of childcare for working parents and carers
  • Continued focus on safeguarding and the One City priorities of developing a workforce which is aware of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs),  by providing training for childcare providers and by supporting childcare providers to improve the quality of their service
  • Although the annual budget for this service will remain at current levels, the service will be expected to look for any cost savings and efficiencies they can make, in light of the likely ongoing financial pressure local authorities will face in response to COVID-19

4. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the CDSS commissioning priorities, as outlined above?

Our procurement recommendations

Bristol City Council proposes to recommission the Childcare Development and Sustainability Service as one citywide contract with limited changes to the current service specifications, as set out in the commissioning priorities section of the strategy.

The contract would be delivered at its current value of £305,000 per year for one year, with the potential for a further one-year extension.

The value of the CDSS contract would not rise with inflation for the duration of the contract. Providers that apply (or bid) to deliver the CDSS would be expected to factor in any increased costs of inflation into their proposals.  The service would be reviewed annually throughout the life of the contract and any changes to the financial position of the service provider would be considered as part of this review.

5. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the procurement recommendations for the CDSS as outlined above?