Government Expansion Offers Relief to Working Parents
Ministers have announced that parents can now apply for bumper free childcare starting from January 2. As part of a massive government expansion, working mums and dads of two-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of support. While the rollout officially begins in April, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is urging parents to sign up early.
Alleviating Crippling Childcare Costs
Childcare costs have been a burden on parents, with over 5,000 providers closing in the past year. Poorer families are spending over a quarter of their wages on childcare. To address this issue, the Department for Education is recommending that parents register for the new support between mid-January and the end of February. Applications can be made on the same government website used by parents of three and four-year-olds.
Recruitment Drive for Childminders
A mass recruitment drive for childminders is currently underway. To attract new hires, start-up grants of up to £1,200 are being offered. Additionally, £400 million in previously announced funds is being allocated to councils to invest in childcare services.
The childcare package, announced in last year's Budget, will be rolled out in stages. Starting from April, eligible two-year-olds will receive 15 hours of free childcare. In September, working parents of nine-month-olds will also be eligible for 15 free hours. By September 2025, all parents of nine-month-olds will have access to 30 hours of free childcare until their children reach school age.
Education Secretary's Statement
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan stated, "From April next year, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of government-funded childcare a week, making sure parents no longer have to choose between a career and a family, and doubling down on this government’s commitment to getting more people into work and growing the economy. I know the delivery of this transformation is no easy task, which is why I am pushing ahead with increased funding rates across the country and up to £1,200 for new childminders, knocking down barriers to recruiting and retaining the talented staff that provide such wonderful care for our children."
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