Staffordshire parents are claiming millions of hours of funded childcare for their three and four-year-olds.
Latest figures show more than 7.7 million hours a year of pre-school care are being claimed by nearly 6,800 children.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:
“When we became one of the first authorities nationally to begin delivering the 30 hours funded childcare, local research showed that half of families locally had problems with their childcare costs and that 39 per cent of parents surveyed had actually reduced their working hours to cope.
“With each place worth up to £5,000 a year this offer can make a huge difference to a family – parents can change their work life balance, keep some money in their pocket, or work more hours if they want to.”
The next places for 30 hours a week funded childcare are available across the county from January 1 for children who celebrate their third birthday between September 1 and December 31, 2018.
To be eligible for 30 hours’ funded childcare both parents, or the parent in a single-parent family, must earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours a week at the national minimum wage, or living wage.
Parents should register at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk by December 31, or must wait until April 2019. Having registered they should take their unique code and contact their preferred childcare provider.
Places are also available for children who are already three or four years old, but haven’t yet been registered.
The 30 hours scheme was rolled out nationally after being trialled in Staffordshire in 2016/17.
Since then Families and Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP has visited the county to see how the county council looks at anticipated demand for pre-school care and works with childcare providers to ensure there is high quality provision wherever it’s needed in Staffordshire.
Mark Sutton added:
“In Staffordshire 96 per cent of pre-school places are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted so the 30 hours’ entitlement is a fantastic benefit to the children and their parents and helps businesses retain and recruit staff.”