Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Free childcare boost for Central Bedfordshire families

Friday, 7 July 2023

Our families will benefit from the government’s largest-ever investment in early years childcare and wraparound childcare for primary school-aged children.

  • The expansion of free childcare will support more parents to return to work and help grow the economy
  • We're one of 16 local authorities selected to co-design landmark primary school wraparound childcare provision

Families across Central Bedfordshire will have greater access to free early years childcare as the Government promises to deliver the biggest-ever investment in expanding support.

We will receive part of the £204 million of government funding allocated to deliver wraparound childcare plans that are also aimed at supporting more parents back into work.

Currently, all three and four-year-olds can access 15 hours of free childcare from the age of three, but from April 2024 this will also be extended to two-year-olds of eligible working parents.

From September 2024, eligible working parents will get 15 free hours of childcare from nine months until their children start school, and from September 2025, they could be eligible for 30 free hours from nine months until the start of school.

With average private childcare prices in Central Bedfordshire currently costing parents anywhere between £8 to £10 per hour, this increased support could save families around £150 per week, or £600 per month.

We're also one of 16 local authorities selected to work with the government over the summer to co-design and develop plans for all parents of primary school-aged children to access wraparound childcare in their local area between 8am and 6pm.

Councillor Hayley Whitaker, our Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, said:

We're delighted to be part of this innovative childcare scheme. It will open up new opportunities for many families with young children which in turn will support our local economy, in line with our economic strategy.

This is a really significant announcement and good news for parents. We have already begun engaging with parents to understand their views on these plans, and we have had 800 responses so far to a survey, which parents can still access online. This will help us to address local need.

Our Early Years settings have also been facing challenges because of the cost of living and national minimum wage increases, which have had an effect on recruiting and retaining staff, so this funding will also help to address this, along with the expansion of provision.

For Early Years providers, increased hourly funding rates per child, to be paid from September 2023 will help to ease cost pressures such as staffing costs, training and bills.

Families can access more information about local childcare on our Family Information Directory.

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