The free childcare entitlement

As someone who has just been through the process, I am interested in how other forum members have got on with accessing the free entitlement to childcare for 3-4 year olds (currently 15 hours per week, but to be increased to 30 hours per week).


Where we live, the council provides very limited numbers of places at state-run nurseries (largely nursery schools attached to infant schools). And the hours are not very convenient for working parents - the place we were offered was for between 12.30 and 3.30 five days a week, which we've had to turn down because wrap-around care for that time period is next to impossible to get.


Many people in the neighbourhood have not been able to secure a place at all because of the limited provision, instead having to resort to paying for private childcare - this costs much more than the funding provided by the local council. As an example, for two days provision per week (which is counted as about 18 hours per week - the nursery doesn't offer 15 hours), we will still be paying around £350 per month, with the remaining c£150 of the cost coming from the council.


So for anyone for who the hours are unsuitable, or who is unsuccessful in securing a place at a local authority nursery, there really is no entitlement to free childcare. What are others' experience?

Comments

  • Alikay
    Alikay Posts: 5,147
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    Our nursery has specific sessions allocated for the government funded 15 hours (9am to 12 term time only), and anything else is charged at the normal rate. It's not very convenient or flexible to use for childcare if you're working, and is tricky if you have other children to drop off at the primary school (a good 20 minute walk away) as start times clash. I believe the nursery find it a struggle to offer even these sessions, as the amount paid by the govt barely covers their costs.
  • HB2K
    HB2K Posts: 6 Forumite
    Yes, in many ways the increase from 15 hours to 30 hours will actually mean the sessions offered by the council will end up being more friendly to working parents. But on the other hand, I suspect that the provision will actually worsen as councils struggle to afford to subsidise the increased entitlement. What councils get from central Government to fund the entitlement is clearly nowhere near enough.
  • susancs
    susancs Posts: 3,888 Forumite
    HB2K wrote: »
    Yes, in many ways the increase from 15 hours to 30 hours will actually mean the sessions offered by the council will end up being more friendly to working parents. But on the other hand, I suspect that the provision will actually worsen as councils struggle to afford to subsidise the increased entitlement. What councils get from central Government to fund the entitlement is clearly nowhere near enough.

    I suspect you are correct that many of the current providers offering the 15 hours will pull out of the scheme if they have to offer 30 hours. Many are currently only able to offer the 15 hours by charging higher fees for children under three and charging higher fees for wrap around hours outside of the "free" hours", as the Govt funding is too low. Private nurseries and childminders would not have a sustainable business if they offered 30 hours at the current paid rate. In our area they offer 2 year old funding for 15 hours for certain children, however it is very hard to get a place as a lot of settings cannot afford to offer the places at the rate paid.
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