The Department for Education (DfE) has published 30 hours Free Childcare: Evidence from the Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers 2018. The report contains secondary analysis of the Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers 2018 undertaken by NatCen and Frontier Economics.
Key findings include:
- Engagement with the policy: Among providers with children aged three or four, 90% of group-based providers, 67% of school nurseries and 77% of childminders were offering the 30 hours entitlement.
- Delivering 30 hours: Proportions of settings that had three and four year old children and were offering but not delivering the extended hours were very low for group-based providers and school nurseries (3% for both) but higher for childminders (19%).
- Drivers of engagement: For group-based providers, location was important: providers in London were less likely to offer the extended hours compared to other regions, while settings in the 20% most deprived areas were less likely to make the offer than settings in less deprived areas. In addition, settings run by local authorities were less likely to offer the extended hours than those in the private or voluntary sector, while larger settings, settings open for more weeks or for more hours in the day and settings with spare capacity were more likely to engage with this policy. For school nurseries, the main drivers of engagement were type of school and the opening hours. For childminders, there was weaker evidence (statistically significant at lower confidence levels) that region, size of provider and opening hours were the main drivers (with London having the lowest percentage of childminders offering the 30 hours and larger providers/ those open for longer hours being more likely to offer the extended hours).
- Flexibility throughout the year: Group-based providers and childminders were much more flexible in offering the extended hours throughout the year: 50% of group-based providers and 51% of childminders made a year-round offer. Only 8% of school nurseries did so, but it should be noted that most schools are not open all year round.
- Flexibility during the day: childminders were most flexible (92% did not impose any restrictions on parents); group-based providers were less flexible (73% did not have restrictions); and school nurseries were most likely to restrict when the hours could be used (62% did not have restrictions).
Commenting on the new analysis, Susanna Kalitowski, Policy and Research Manager at PACEY, said
“Childminders are more likely to be delivering government-funded places than ever before, but they are still less likely than group-based providers to be doing so – and remain a great untapped source of places. We know the key barriers are low funding rates, delayed payments, red tape, and the inability to delivered funded hours to related children. On top of this, there is still a lack of awareness amongst parents that they can access their entitlement through childminders. This is part of the reason that more childminders are offering, but not delivering, 30 hours than other types of providers. Take-up of 30 hours is likely to increase in the coming years, and these barriers must be addressed by government and local authorities to ensure families have a choice of high quality, flexible funded places.”