Business development

Expanding the 30 hours “free” funded childcare

What the parents and carers at your setting need to know about the promised extended Early Years entitlements
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March 17, 2023
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In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down.

  • After the announcements about an increase to funded hours in the 2023 Spring Budget, many parents are curious about how and when these new entitlements will be provided.
  • As yet, settings don’t know the specific funding rates that will be offered to provide the extended “free” hours and this makes it hard to answer eager parents’ requests for more information.
  • We’ve created a draft letter for you to copy and edit to your setting's needs which will answer parents’ and carers’ most pressing questions.

30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of 9 months” is a fantastic promise for most parents and carers. 

Since this was announced in the 2023 Spring Budget, settings up and down the country have been inundated with requests and questions from parents, asking when they can take advantage of these extended “free” funded hours of early education. 

However, with a history of underfunding and staffing at a crisis point, it’s understandable that many settings just don’t yet know how to answer. So we’re here to help you out.

Let’s take a look at what the government announced, when things will change, and what you can tell parents and carers right now.

The big ideas

The “free” funded hours that were promised

The Chancellor announced the following:

  • Each child, over the age of 9 months and with working parents, will be entitled to 30 hours of “free” term-time childcare (early education) by September 2025, where eligibility will match the existing 3-4-year-old 30 hours offer.
  • The funded hours will be introduced in phases:
  • 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of 2-year-olds coming into effect in April 2024 
  • 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of 9 months – 3 years old in September 2024.

What we don’t yet know about the expanded 30 funded hours

Although the Chancellor announced that the funding paid to settings for the current “free” hours is to be increased by £204 million from this September (rising to £288 million next year), we don’t yet know what the funding for the expanded hours will look like.

Naturally, with so many settings already struggling with the underfunding of the existing hours, it’s impossible to promise parents more care and education at a deficit in costs. 

What you can tell parents and carers about the 30 hours of early years funding

We’ve written this draft letter to make it easier for you to answer all the key questions parents and carers will be asking you. You can download it here.

Hi [Parent or carer’s name],

Thanks for enquiring about the changes to the 30 hours funded early education that was recently announced in the Budget. 

The first of these changes won’t come into effect until April next year, so as yet, we don’t have all the information we need from the government regarding how these additional hours will be funded.  That means we can’t yet promise how we will offer them. 

Unfortunately, the government has a long history of not funding these kinds of “free” places properly. For example, the current 30 funded hours for 3- and 4-year-olds are estimated to be underfunded by about £1.8 billion.

That being said, here’s what we can share with you so far…

  • The government plans that the changes to the 30 hours of funding will start taking effect in April 2024, with 15 funded hours per week, during term-time (or for 38 weeks a year) for 2-year-olds with working parents..
  • In September 2024, the government plans to introduce 15 funded hours for children 9 months+, with working parents, during term-time (or for 38 weeks a year).
  • In September 2025, they will introduce 30 funded hours for 9 months+, with working parents, during term-time (or for 38 weeks a year). 

You can read the official announcement from the government here and hopefully, we’ll be able to share more soon about how these additional funded hours might work for you.

If you have any other questions please do let me know!

All the best,

[Your setting]

download pdf

What you can do about the 30 hours of early years funding in the meantime

While none of us has all the information yet about the promised additional hours of funded early education, you can keep an eye on government guidance for Early Years entitlements, as well as updates from your Local Authority about how funding will be distributed.

And, if you’re curious about what the rest of the sector is saying, you can find our rundown of responses from key voices here.

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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