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NEWS: Government releases data on the expansion

40,000 additional staff required for September 2025 and 85,000 new childcare places needed, says DfE.

Today, the Department for Education (DfE) released data on the uptake of phase 1 of the entitlement scheme expansion and what they believe the sector needs to do to provide 85,000 new childcare places by September 2025. 

DfE have said that the latest data shows 195,355 two-year-olds are already benefiting from government-funded places. This puts the rollout on the same trajectory as the previous expansion of free childcare hours to three- and four-year-olds in 2017. 

They also claim that all local authorities have reported they are currently meeting the demand from parents for childcare places. 

Meanwhile, they have admitted that a total of 40,000 additional staff compared with 2023 are required by September 2025. 170,000 places are required, with around half available in the system and half needed as new capacity. 

To try and increase capacity, DfE is exploring how unused school space could be repurposed to support childcare settings to offer more places. The school space pilot this summer involves matching a small number of private, voluntary, or independent childcare providers with surplus school and college space. 

The Government launched its national recruitment campaign at the beginning of this year, aimed at bringing more people into the sector whilst little emphasis has been placed on retaining the skilled and passionate workforce that we risk losing from years of poor pay, being overworked, and feeling undervalued in our sector. 

The current childminding consultation touches on some areas to improve working conditions but is not a comprehensive strategy looking at how to retain childminders who are leaving the sector in larger numbers than any other provider. 

Comment from Ka Lai Brightley-Hodges, PACEY’s Head of Membership and Marketing: 

Ther first phase of the expansion was not easy or straightforward for both parents and providers. In some cases, childminders have still not received their funding payments and we are already over halfway through April.  

The childminding consultation is not the comprehensive review of childminding that we have been calling for and will not fix the fundamental issues of poor funding, long hours, and lack of support. If the Government needs to create 85,000 new childcare places by September 2025, it must directly address the decline in childminder numbers and include childminders prominently in the national recruitment campaign. The Government needs to understand that childminders are crucial to the expansion of the scheme, caring for children with SEND and providing quality childcare and education. 

PACEY policy work  

At such a crucial time for the sector, PACEY is working hard on behalf of our members to improve working conditions for Childminders:    

  • Continuing to urge housing associations, social landlords and developers in England to allow childminders to work in their rented properties that have restrictive clauses in contracts which stop them from working in their homes. 

  • Making sure Childminders play a pivotal role in the Governments wraparound scheme.

  • Campaigning for related children to be included under the funded entitlement scheme.  

  • Challenging DfE and local authorities where funding has been unlawfully withheld. 
     
  • Highlighting the issues of moving Childminders from tax credits to Universal Credit impacting their income and working with DWP to treat Childminders differently.