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Childminders: September Childcare Entitlement Expansion

Volume 747: debated on Friday 15 March 2024

This Government are delivering a brighter future for Britain, with long-term economic security and opportunity: where hard work is always rewarded; where ambition and aspiration are celebrated; where young people get the skills they need to succeed in life and where families are supported.

In March 2023 the Chancellor announced transformative reforms to childcare for parents, children, the economy and women by vastly increasing the amount of free childcare that eligible working families can access. These reforms also included measures to make it easier for providers to deliver their childcare provision, including changing the staff:child ratio for two-year-olds in England and updates to the early years foundation stage framework. This is the largest expansion of childcare in England’s history.

From this April, eligible working parents will access the first 15 hours of funded childcare each week for their two-year-olds. In September, they will be able to access 15 hours each week for their nine-month-olds. From September 2025 all eligible parents will have access to 30 hours free childcare for children aged nine months all the way until they start school.

In this spring Budget, the Chancellor announced that the hourly rate childcare providers are paid to deliver the free hours offers for children aged nine months to four years would increase in line with the metric used at spring Budget 2023 for the next two years. This is an estimated additional £500 million of investment over two years. The sector has welcomed this certainty on future funding and the additional confidence it creates to expand.

We continue to make good progress supporting the sector to ready to provide parents with the places they need.

We launched our new “Do something BIG. Work with small children” national recruitment campaign in February. Already thousands of people are visiting the campaign website every week to find out more about early years and childcare careers. The website also directs users to search for roles on the Department for Work and Pensions’ “Find a job” platform, where there are now thousands of vacancies to explore.

As we had hoped, parents are enthusiastic to take up the new support from Government, with over 100,000 entitlement codes now issued to families of eligible two-year-olds. We recently announced that based on our latest projections, we expect at least 150,000 children to benefit from this by April, collectively saving parents over £500 million in childcare costs.

During February we updated the wraparound programme handbook for local authorities and published new guidance for schools and trusts setting out our expectations of schools in providing wraparound childcare. We have also updated the “right to request” guidance so it is clear how parents can exercise their right to request childcare from their school and how schools should manage these requests.

Applications for September 2024

We have announced today, 15 March 2024, that applications for the second wave of the largest ever expansion of Government-funded childcare will open on 12 May 2024.

From 12 May eligible working parents of children from nine months old will be able to register to access 15 hours of Government-funded childcare a week from 1 September 2024, with many receiving support with childcare costs for the first time. We are encouraging parents to apply as early as possible within the application window from 12 May and they can find out more information on

Childminder consultation launch

Childminders make up an important part of the early years sector, and provide high-quality, flexible and more affordable childcare for parents. We have taken action to support them, through the uplift in funding for early years, new wraparound funding and the new flexibilities provided for by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023. In November 2023, we launched our £7.2 million start-up grant scheme, worth up to £1,200 for childminders who registered on or after 15 March 2023, and we have introduced new flexibilities for how many other childminders and assistants they can work with, and how much time they can spend working from non-domestic premises.

Today, we have launched a new consultation to improve childminder recruitment and retention. The proposals in this consultation address some of the issues that childminders have told us are important to them. This includes simplifying the registration process for new childminders, offering flexibilities to childminder agencies, and ensuring local authorities pay entitlements funding monthly where this is the childminder’s preference. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, we will also consider extending this final measure to ensure all early years providers are paid entitlements funding monthly, if they request it.

The consultation also seeks to further understand the property barriers childminders face, the best ways to support childminders to remain in the profession, and what more we can do to help childminders to deliver the new entitlements and provide more wraparound care. These proposals form part of our ongoing work to support the sector in continuing to deliver a fantastic standard of childcare and helping to deliver our transformative expansion of childcare.

Experience based route consultation

Last year the Government consulted on proposed changes to the EYFS, including the introduction of an “experience based route” for staff in early years settings to be included in ratios following a period of supervised practice. Following the supportive responses to this proposal, the Government intend to proceed with this change to introduce an experience-based route for practitioners. We will continue to monitor the needs of the EY workforce as the new entitlements begin to roll out and will use this to inform how we develop the route and when it will be introduced. We will provide more information in due course. Implementing these changes will help early years practitioners to continue to deliver their invaluable, high-quality education and care to millions of children each day.

Safeguarding consultation

The safety of our youngest children is our utmost priority and I have seen at first hand the excellent practices that early years providers have in place to keep children safe. We continually monitor and review safeguarding within early years settings. As part of this ongoing work, it is my intention to consult on changes to the early years foundation stage statutory framework to ensure the safeguarding requirements are strengthened for the youngest children as entitlements roll out.