Childcare applications to open 12 May for parents of nine month olds

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced today that parents of nine month olds who will be eligible for a childcare place from September can start the process of applying from 12 May.

From the beginning of September 2024, 15 hours a week of government-funded childcare will be offered to working parents of children from nine months.  Parents will be able to access a code from the Childcare Choices website.

Applications from parents for the September funding can be made up to 31 August. The government has requested that providers do not set deadlines for childcare codes from parents earlier than 31 July 2024 and has asked that government funded places are communicated to parents as soon as possible.

With over 150,000 children expected to benefit from the 2-year-old offer in April, parents who qualify for the September funding are being encouraged to act now to secure a place.  In addition, the DfE has warned that a “significant minority” of providers have a waiting list and are encouraging parents to begin looking for a place for their child now if they have a preferred provider.

Purnima Tanuku OBE. Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “This increased government investment for early education and care places from September is good for families and for children to achieve better outcomes.

“Given the challenges that we have seen parents and childcare providers facing ahead of the April expansion, we’re pleased that the Government has started to communicate early for the September roll-out. From September parents eligible for funded childcare for nine-month-olds may be going through the system for the first time, so it’s really important they and the providers are well supported with clear information and guidance.

“Childcare providers have been working really hard to make a success of this policy despite the challenges of underfunding and a deepening workforce crisis. We know from recent research with nurseries that 75% said they had waiting lists for children under three and 56% said there was unmet demand in their local area. While it is important for parents to ask about available future places locally, we would urge them to be aware that childcare settings will be prioritising supporting the delivery of places for the April roll-out, so they may not hear back straight away.

“The new consultation is a good opportunity to review how the childcare funding is paid to all providers, it should be in advance rather than in arrears to help with cash flow. For years now, NDNA has been calling for a system that’s simpler for parents, providers and local authorities where providers are paid directly using an online account for each child. This would avoid millions of pounds being unspent at local authority level: over the last four years NDNA research has discovered £225m of early years entitlement money which has not been spent on early years places. There is also £2.4bn unclaimed Tax-Free Childcare which should be used to support parents with childcare costs and support providers to deliver places sustainably.”

The government has also announced today that all 153 local authorities have now shared their rates for the two year-old funding expansion starting in April.

NDNA has raised the issue of reconfirmation with DfE who have announced that parents who are already claiming Tax-Free Childcare and need to reconfirm their eligibility between 1 April and 12 May, prior to the new offer opening, will automatically be issued a code in the post by HMRC soon after applications open.

The DfE is also publishing a consultation about the way providers are funded including questions on whether monthly payments are available and helpful. This forms part of a wider consultation on recruiting and retaining childminders, however there are some questions for any type of provider and local authorities in consultation which can be found here.

  • England

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