Government Announces Councils to Pilot Free Childcare Expansion

The Government have announced today that they are piloting the 30 hour week childcare offer in 8 areas across the UK. 

£13 million has been allocated to be shared between the councils of Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire. 

Parents will be eligible for the offer if they work 16 hours a week on the national living wage and a salary of up to £100,000 a year per parent, but local authorities are to decide how they will offer the places during the pilot.

The Government will also be looking at the issues that make it difficult for parents to access childcare, including parents of children with special educational needs and disability. At CDC we particularly welcome this, as the Every Disabled Child Matter's report last year, Levelling the Playingfield, found that access to suitable high-quality, affordable childcare remains an insurmountable struggle for many families with disabled children. In the report, a parent from Westminster said "I have been unable to access any of the free early childcare entitlement as I don’t feel that any of the locally participating childcare providers would be able to provide the quality of support that my son Darragh needs in a learning environment."

It's essential that the pilot addresses how the quality of childcare can be improved and delivered by well-qualified staff, in order to ensure that all eligible children, including those with SEND, are able to access high quality provision which supports their learning and meets their needs. 

Childcare provision for families of disabled children has been a ongoing challenge. We welcome the Government's renewed commitment to this area and look forward to seeing it fully implemented in practice.

Christine Lenehan, Director of CDC