Childcare expansion begins from 1 April for parents of two-year-olds

The first phase of the government’s planned childcare expansion started 1 April which is set to benefit over 150,000 children.

From this week, parents of two-year-olds in England can access 15 hours a week of government-funded childcare.

The full roll out of funded childcare will be in place by September 2025.

The Government has launched a national recruitment campaign to increase the number of childcare staff and has provided an additional investment of £400 million to increase funding rates in 2024-25.  At the Spring Budget the Chancellor confirmed that the government will increase rates over the next two years by an estimated £500 million.

Commenting on the first day of the Government’s expanded childcare offer of 15 hours’ of funded childcare to working families for the term following a child’s second birthday, Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “Today is the first day of the Government’s expanded offer to working families with two-year-old children that was announced last year. Increasing investment in our children’s early education and care can really pay dividends in terms of their long-term life chances and supports working families. That makes our sector a critical element of our social, educational and economic infrastructure.

“We know that providers have been working extremely hard to be ready for today’s roll-out but they face extremely challenging circumstances including last-minute funding decisions, workforce shortages and getting access to capital support to expand. In our recent survey almost half of providers said they didn’t believe they would be able to offer extra places. Parents may find that there aren’t places in their first choice areas and we know parental choice is crucial when it comes to the care and well-being of their children.

“Looking ahead we hope the Government will continue to work with providers and the sector on initiatives to improve recruitment and retention, address funding shortfalls for three and four-year-old places and support providers with challenges like capital funding and business rates burdens. This is just the first stage of an ambitious plan but we need a thriving and healthy sector to be able to provide the high-quality and accessible childcare places we want to see, that truly give our children the best possible start in life.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

This is a landmark moment, and I am extremely proud to see we’re on track for more than 150,000 children to take up government-funded places under our new offer. This will be a lifeline for working parents, building up to this government’s plan for the most comprehensive childcare support in this country’s history by 2025.

Support with childcare costs has an enormous ripple effect, freeing up parents to increase their hours at work and put more money in their pockets, or giving them the security to try out a new career or passion. It also contributes to economic growth and opens up new career opportunities in a hugely rewarding sector.

There has been some confusion about Labour’s position on the current Government’s commitment for early education and childcare.

Yesterday Labour Shadow Minister with no portfolio Nick Thomas-Symonds told Times Radio: “The entitlement that parents have been promised, we will not reduce if we are privileged to form the next Labour government.

“The point that Bridget Phillipson was making, and this is why we are making this point to the government today, is just because you introduce an entitlement doesn’t guarantee that the places are available.”

Then this morning on BBC Breakfast, Pat McFadden, Labour’s National Campaign Co-ordinator said: “Our concern about the proposals as they stand are about deliverability because if you fund the demand you have to also make sure the supply is there. We want to make sure people’s entitlement is matched with an actual available place. We have commissioned Sir David Bell former chief inspector of Ofsted to review this and come up with a deliverability plan and address the how of this as well as availability of entitlements.

“We are not proposing to take anyone’s entitlement away. We are very clear we want him to report in good time – an election is likely to take place later this year, we know the timetable has been set out and we want to report in time for any changes to be implemented.”

  • England

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