“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 Chancellor announced the following:
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.
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…
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,
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.
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.