PACEY has submitted a response to the Department for Education’s 30 hours consultation.
The government published an open consultation back in April on the 30-hours free childcare entitlement. The aim of the consultation was to gather views on how the 30 hours will work in practice, examining issues such as flexibility, SEN and delivery by local authorities.
The consultation asked for feedback on a number of specific issues:
how places might be delivered more flexibly;
provision for children with special education needs and disabilities;
the role and responsibilities of local authorities in securing places;
information about childcare for parents, and
the ‘grace period’ for parents
One of the main proposed changes is to extend the period that parents can access the free funded hours between 6am – 8pm. It is also proposed that the minimum session length will be increased to three hours for care between 9am and 3.30pm.
Liz Bayram, Chief Exec, PACEY comments:
“Our response first and foremost makes clear that a fair fee for funded hours is critical but there are other important areas PACEY thinks government could do more on, to ensure working families receive this support and that it is sustainable for early year settings. Much improved business development support is needed for many settings, including helping providers to work in partnership with each other to deliver shared services, as well as, practical help with implementation e.g. information sharing and financial systems. We are especially concerned about this area as most local authorities simply don’t have the capacity to do this anymore.
“Whilst it is good to see government placing such a strong emphasis on the contribution childminding can make to delivering this priority, PACEY has used the consultation to again raise concerns about how government’s current approach isn’t enough to address the key issues facing childminders. Childminders are put off delivery of the free entitlement because of poor fee levels and inadequate administration like all providers but also because their fees are often different to other settings; are reduced when their funded two year old children turn three (unlike a nursery, childminder ratios do not change for children under five) and because childminders still cannot claim the free entitlement for any related children they care for.
“PACEY is concerned the early implementation phase has placed too much reliance on the handful of childminder agencies that exist, despite continued childminder concerns around the agency approach. More focus needs to be given to the removal of these key barriers to childminder’s participation.”