Staffordshire’s excellent pre-school childcare network has been praised by the Families and Children’s Minister.
Nadhim Zahawi MP visited Staffordshire to see for himself the positive impact of the 30 hours’ childcare scheme.
The Families and Children’s Minister said:
Staffordshire was one of the first implementers of our 30 hours childcare offer, and reached its initial targets well in advance, offering close to 500 places to three and four-year-olds in the area.
I’m grateful to staff and parents at Noah’s Ark Pre-School who gave me such a warm welcome on a cold day – it’s great to see the programme doing so well.
We want to build on the thousands of families already accessing high-quality, affordable childcare, and Staffordshire is leading the way in helping us deliver on this goal.”
Staffordshire was one of the first places in the country to introduce 30 hours’ childcare, as part of a Government pilot scheme, and now has one of the highest take-up rates in the region, with almost 4,500 children taking advantage.
Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet support member for Learning and Employability, said that the high take up rate in Staffordshire had changed people’s lives. He said:
Every year in Staffordshire parents are claiming up to 5,000,000 hours of childcare and it’s making a huge difference to their lives.
Parents can get back into work, work more hours, improve their work life balance, or simply put some money back in their pockets.”
Minister Zahawi met county council officials to hear how the authority looks at forecast demand and works with childcare providers to ensure there is high quality provision wherever it’s needed in Staffordshire.
He then visited Noah’s Ark Pre-School Playgroup at Holmcroft Youth and Community Centre, Stafford, – rated Outstanding by Ofsted – to hear direct from parents and staff.
Philip White said:
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.”
To be eligible, either 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 can check eligibility and claim funding at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk . Once parents have a registration code from the website they must contact their preferred childcare provider to make arrangements.