Today’s news review looks at today’s multi-million funding announcement to create more childcare places for working parents across the country.
Multi-million boost for childcare
Today, 11 April, we announced £55 million of funding to support our childcare provision for working families.
This includes £50 million to help nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups invest in new buildings and upgrade facilities, helping to create more than 9,000 childcare places across the country.
We have also allocated £5 million for organisations that are helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with additional needs to access high-quality early education.
Today’s funding announcement doubles the government’s capital investment to £100 million, which altogether will provide nearly 18,000 extra places. This is part of our commitment to give working families 30 hours free childcare from September.
Within the £50 million boost for providers, around £5 million will go to projects in some of the 12 Opportunity Areas announced by the Education Secretary: Bradford, Blackpool, Derby, Doncaster, Fenland & East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough, Stoke-on-Trent and West Somerset. Today’s funding will be a further boost for families living there.
The announcement was picked up by The Guardian, which broadly welcomed the additional funding but carried comments from Neil Leitch, CEO of the Pre-School Learning Alliance (PSLA), who said that the extra funding does not address providers’ concerns and claimed that ‘less than half’ of them intend to offer the 30 hours entitlement.
This claim does not match the evidence from our own survey of all Ofsted-registered providers – not just PSLA members. This found that the vast majority intend to offer 30 hours. In our Early Implementer areas, we are already seeing providers exceed the target number of places and meeting the demand from parents. In these areas more than 5,400 places are already being delivered for working parents.
Minister for the Early Years Caroline Dinenage said:
In my visits around the country I have heard from families whose lives have been improved by access to 30 hours. As part of our Plan for Britain we want to make this a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few, so that means removing the barriers facing parents struggling to balance their jobs with the cost of childcare.
This investment will deliver more childcare places to working parents, giving them the benefits of 30 hours free childcare while giving their children high-quality early education that sets them up for life. This is backed by our record £6 billion investment in childcare per year by 2020.
Sue Cook, Director for Children and Young People at Suffolk County Council said:
We are thrilled that additional funding has been granted by the Department for Education to support the development of three pre-schools across Ipswich. This follows the announcement in January that funding will be provided for two new pre-schools in Lavenham and Stowmarket.
This will provide much-needed extra provision and support for early years providers in Suffolk, ahead of the 30 hour free childcare offer for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, which will be implemented from September.
Helen Dennis, manager of Mudeford Wood Playgroup in Dorset, said:
The capital funding we have secured will allow the long-awaited creation of an attractive, purpose-built playgroup environment that will not only enable the Playgroup to offer the government’s 30 hour extended childcare initiative, but working alongside parents will also help us improve the quality and flexibility of the service we provide.
Councillor Fionuala Foley, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Swindon Borough Council said:
We are delighted to have been awarded this grant, which will create additional childcare places to meet demand for the 30 hours free childcare policy. Each project is very different and will offer working families greater choice and flexibility to access high quality provision in Swindon.
Evidence has shown through our early implementation work that demand for places will be high, so the opportunity to create an additional 170 places, including 30 with a specific focus towards children with complex needs, is extremely timely.
To find out more about what childcare support for parents, please go to the Childcare Choices website. This also allows parents to register for email alerts about the 30 hours offer.