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From September 1 eligible parents of three and four-year-old children can claim 30 hours of childcare.

Eligible parents urged to sign up for 30 hours’ childcare

A working mum who’s already benefited enormously from 30 hours-a-week funded childcare for three and four-year-olds is urging other parents to sign up for the scheme.

Mother-of-one Sarah Gibbons signed up after Staffordshire was chosen last year to take part in one of eight trial schemes across the country.

The Government’s 30 hours’ free childcare scheme is now being rolled out nationally and to take part eligible parents should sign up before the launch on September 1.

Sarah, aged 42, of Stafford, said the change from 15 to 30 hours’ funded childcare had been a huge help for her family.

She said:

It has taken a lot of pressure off our family to not have to worry about childcare and cost. I would highly recommend this scheme to anyone who has it available to them.

My partner Ian and I both work at Perkins Engines and when we just had the 15 hours childcare, we were reliant on our parents picking up Mia from nursery at 12 and looking after her until we returned home at 5.

My parents are in their mid-70s and it’s physically demanding to look after a four-year-old.

Having the 30 hours has taken all the pressure off them and given them back their retirement.”

Mia has been attending a nursery attached to a primary school. Sarah added:

As an only child we wanted Mia to have that interaction with other children.

The 30 hours has enabled her to mix with other children and I think will benefit her for starting school in September.”

Parents are being reminded that they need to check if they qualify and sign up for the scheme in advance at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to secure the 30 hours.

Depending on take-up, it’s estimated the parents of around 7,000 children in Staffordshire could be entitled to the childcare which can be used during term time, or more flexibly over the 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.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:

The trial scheme showed what a huge difference these extra hours of childcare can make to people’s lives and I would urge everyone who thinks they may be eligible to find out more before the September 1 deadline.”