Locale : Global (English)
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Free to work

For too long, childcare costs prevented many parents, particularly mothers, from working.

Project 30 hours entitlement, England

Client UK Department for Education

ExpertiseProject management, sector specialist technical advisory services, stakeholder management

Since September 2017, three- and four-year-olds of working parents in England who meet the eligibility criteria have been able to access extended early years entitlement without paying the cost – 15 core plus 15 additional hours weekly, up to a maximum of 38 weeks (a total 1140 hours). Childcare Works is a partnership between Mott MacDonald and childcare charity Hempsall’s (and previously Action For Children) providing advice and support to local authorities and childcare providers, so that they can deliver high-quality, accessible, flexible and affordable early years childcare across the country.

The government’s policy for 30 hours of free childcare offers parents significant opportunities to make work pay and support the childcare sector to expand and create jobs. In year one, 26% of eligible mothers and 7% of fathers had increased their working hours, while 78% of parents reported improved finances.

The 30 hours policy contributes to children’s wellbeing. A 2018 DfE funded study found that the more hours spent in formal and informal early childhood education and care improves the cognitive and socio-emotional development of children aged two to four.

Almost 600,000 children benefited from 30 hours of free childcare across 2018 and 2019. Effective early education is crucial to a child’s future life chances. On average, children attending pre-school achieve one grade higher in seven GCSEs relative to their peers who do not participate in any type of early years education.

Free weekly childcare can increase household incomes by enabling parents to extend their working hours. Childcare Works and providers have worked together to ensure childcare is flexible, sustainable and high-quality, supporting employment (through place creation and use) and the growth of a skilled workforce in the sector.

The Childcare Works team has measured an increase in local authorities’ confidence to meet the needs of children with special educational needs in the 30 hours programme. This support to vulnerable children helps to close the inequality gap between them and their peers.

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