Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds has previously expressed his belief that the attainment gap between children begins before they even start school.
30 hours childcare offer was universally implemented in September 2017. The scheme was introduced to help cover the costs of childcare for working families with 3 and 4 year olds – enabling parents to ‘double up’ on the amount of hours of free childcare available for them, granting parents 1140 hours of free childcare a year. It is estimated 30 hours childcare is saving families on average around £5,000 per year, per child.
The take up of the 30 hours free childcare can be used across any Ofsted registered day nursery, pre-school/playgroup, registered childminder or Children’s Centre nursery.
The childcare offer has already helped many families, including lone parent families, to find or maintain employment, with the peace of mind of knowing that their child is being educated in a nursery or a similar early years provision.
The childcare offer’s back to work agenda is proving beneficial to many families and single parents. The Department for Education recently visited a Children’s Centre-based nursery in Wigan where parents discussed how the offer has had a positive impact for them. One single parent mother whose son attends the nursery, stated how the 30 hours childcare offer has enabled her to go back to working as a nurse, which she did not believe she would have been able to do without access to it. Other parents also discussed the benefits of the 30 hours childcare offer which had allowed for them to return to work and accrue more hours, knowing their child is being educated.
The 30 hours scheme has had its challenges. For example, some childcare providers have evidently not received requisite funding to cover the costs of a place. In some such instances, provisions have charged parents an additional ‘top-up’ to cover the exact costs. In response to these challenges, the DfE has established the Delivery Support Fund which made £8,650,000 available for bids from Local Authorities to help support with the delivery of their local 30 hours childcare offer. Furthermore, The government have also committed an additional £1 billion per year by 2020, to help support the flagship programme.