STAFFORDSHIRE PARENTS BENEFIT FROM 30 HOURS FREE CHILDCARE A YEAR EARLY

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· Working parents to receive double the current amount of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds.

· £13million for eight councils to start offering this extended free childcare offer a year early.

· Government going further than ever to help working families with childcare costs.

Working parents in Staffordshire will be leading the way as they benefit from 30 hours of free childcare for three-and four-year olds a year before it is rolled out nationwide.

Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah has today announced £13 million for some councils, including Staffordshire, to offer the extended entitlement to some parents from September 2016.

The extra hours of childcare will make it easier for these parents to work and is another move designed to meet the Government’s commitment to make work pay.

They will be supported by several Early Innovators, which will look at how the offer works in specific circumstances, including for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

In the Midlands, this will be Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City and Walsall. Their experiences will then be used to support the full rollout in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement.

Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, 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 benefitting from the government’s offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents.

“We have made a commitment to help hardworking people, and through this extended offer, we are helping parents return to work, if they choose to do so.”

All three- and four-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, and this is also extended to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds. Last year, more than 1 million three- and four-year-olds, and 157,000 two-year-olds benefited from this offer.

But the government is now going further, and will deliver an additional 15 free hours to working parents of three- and four-year-olds from September 2017.

Childcare Minister, Sam Gyimah, said:

“I know how important childcare is from my own personal experience, and I couldn’t be more determined to make sure we give children the best start in life, support parents to work, and as a result, allow our country to prosper.

“I’m pleased that we are investing in childcare, and I’m looking forward to seeing how working parents in Staffordshire benefit from 30 hours free childcare, before we roll the offer out to the rest of the country.”

Mike Lawrence, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Children, 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.”

Working parents in Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will benefit from the early offer from this September.

They will be supported by 25 Early Innovators nationwide, so that the free hours are tested across the country, in a range of different types of childcare market, and addressing a number of potential difficulties.

As part of this Government’s commitment to helping hardworking people, we will be investing more than £1bn extra per year by 2019-20 to fund the extension of the free childcare entitlement.

The Department for Education will also be piloting a new contract with councils, and consulting on a fairer funding formula for the early years, to help ensure that local authorities are passing the money on to providers, and that providers are given a fair rate.