Three and four year olds already receive 15 hours’ free childcare to help prepare them for school, while making it easier for parents to work. Now the Government is funding an expansion to 30 hours a week and has chosen Staffordshire as one of the pilot areas, because of the county council’s success in managing the scheme so far.
The expansion will begin in September and initially be targeted at families who already go out to work.
Cllr Mike Lawrence, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Community Safety, said he was delighted that the decision to choose Staffordshire as one of the eight pilot areas would benefit parents while helping prepare their children for school.
He said, “The extension to thirty hours is great news for Staffordshire parents; it helps give their children the best possible start in life and will make a real difference to working families. Around 86 per cent of the county’s childcare providers are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, so parents know their children are in safe hands and getting the best start they can.”
Staffordshire has also been praised nationally for its success in delivering the Think2 scheme which has seen more than 80 per cent of parents claim their 15 hours of free childcare for two-year-olds.
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah MP made the announcement today saying £13 million would be made available for eight authorities, including Staffordshire, to offer the extended entitlement to some parents from September 2016.
In Staffordshire, the scheme will also see closer working with employers to understand their childcare needs as well as their employees.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP said, “For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier to working parents and particularly mothers. “ That’s why I’m delighted that in just a few months’ time, we will see the first families in Staffordshire benefiting from the government’s offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents.”
Sharon Kelly, director of education services at Entrust said, “Entrust is already working with Staffordshire County Council to deliver free childcare provision, and we will play a key role in ensuring this new programme is a success. We will be working with employers and schools across the county to ensure high quality childcare is available to the families taking part in the pilot.”