Staffordshire’s work in helping parents get 30 hours a week supported childcare has been seen at first hand by the Government’s top official.
Michelle Dyson, Director of Early Years and Childcare at the Department for Education, met county councillors and officers, before talking to business representatives and visiting nurseries in Staffordshire.
Staffordshire County Council was one of eight authorities which trialled the introduction of 30 hours supported childcare for three and four-year-olds in 2016/17 before the government rolled out the scheme nationally in September.
Mark Sutton, the county council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said:
Staffordshire has always been at the forefront of helping parents claim the pre-school childcare they’re entitled to, while working with providers to increase provision wherever it’s needed.
We’ve found from last year’s trial that the 30 hours’ supported childcare made a huge difference to people’s lives – it put more money in their pockets by either saving on fees, or allowing a parent to go out to work, or it simply made a massive improvement to their work-life balance.
At the same time the feedback from employers was that those benefiting seemed happier and more settled knowing that their childcare was sorted.”
In Staffordshire, the latest figures show the families of 3,909 children have taken up the 30 hours’ offer, equating to 4.456 million hours of childcare in the county a year.
To be eligible 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.
In Staffordshire 96 per cent of pre-school places are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Mark Sutton said:
We have many high quality childcare providers in Staffordshire and I’m thrilled that so many parents have taken up the offer to give their children such a good start in life.”
Eligible parents of three and four-year-olds can carry on registering at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to secure the 30 hours when the scheme reopens in January. Parents who registered in August but have not yet redeemed their voucher are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.