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Latest figures show more than 7.7 million hours a year of pre-school care are being claimed by nearly 6,800 children.

Free childcare scheme begins this week

Hundreds of parents will benefit this week as the new 30 hours’ free childcare scheme begins in Staffordshire.

The county council has 415 places of 30 hours’ free childcare for three and four-year-olds to allocate after the authority successfully bid earlier this year to host one of eight national trial schemes.

Key to the bid’s success was the council’s approach to working with employers, which the government wants to learn from before the 30 hours’ childcare offer is made available nationally in September 2017.

Ben Adams, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Learning and Skills, said:

Thanks to our success in attracting the trial a year before it’s unveiled in the rest of the country, this initiative will make a real difference to hundreds of families – it will help them find extra work, or if they already work full time it will put money in their pockets.”

The county council approached some of the largest employers in Staffordshire to work together on the trial.

Those employers currently taking part include Briggs Equipment, Cannock; SAI Automotive/Faurecia, Fradley; Molson Coors, Burton; the Argos distribution centre at Acton Gate, near Stafford; the Asda stores at Stafford and Tamworth; Perkins, Stafford; Florette, Fradley; every Tesco store and distribution centre in Staffordshire; Wincanton B&Q distribution centre at Branston; Wincanton (Screwfix) Stafford; Ornua Foods, Leek; and several companies from Staffordshire Technology Park, Stafford.

Ben Adams said:

Ninety-two per cent of pre-school places in Staffordshire are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, so these hours of extra childcare are a fantastic benefit to the children and their parents and helps businesses retain and recruit staff.”

More information about the scheme is available from www.staffordshire.gov.uk/30hour  .