30 hours is coming.
It seems like we've been talking about it for ages, but in just over six months, the extended childcare entitlement will be rolled out across England (our colleagues in Wales get to wait a bit longer!).
Regardless of your views on the scheme, it is vital that you know the basics of how it will work so that you can make an informed decision about whether you will offer it or not.
Here is a list of the key things every childminder needs to know about 30 hours, as well as what you need to do now to prepare.
1. From September 2017, 3- and 4-years olds of working parents will be entitled to 30 hours per week of government-funded early education and childcare during term time, which amounts to 1140 hours per year.
To qualify, both parents must be working and earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national living wage (or the national minimum wage for those under 25), and no more than £100,000 per year. The number of hours worked is less important than the money earned, so a high-earning parent could be working only a few hours per week and still be eligible.
All 3- and 4-year-olds remain entitled to 15 hours of early education per week during term time (570 hours per year), regardless of their parents' work status and earnings.
2. Most Ofsted registered childminders are eligible to deliver funded places of up to 30 hours per week.
Childminders awaiting inspection, or with a grade of Requires Improvement, Satisfactory or higher (Good or Outstanding) are able to deliver funded places. There are no other requirements.
3. It is not compulsory to offer 30 hours.
It is completely up to you as a provider to decide whether you offer funded places. However it is important to carefully consider the impact on your business sustainability before deciding.
4. Most parents say they will take up 30 hours.
Surveys have repeatedly shown between 80% and 98% of eligible parents plan to take up at least part of the entitlement, and this has been borne out by the early implementation pilots.
You should assume that parents will ask whether they can take up some or all of their 30-hour place with you.
5. It is up to you when you offer funded hours.
There is no mandatory pattern of delivery. Funded places can be delivered on any day of the week, even weekends, any time between 6am and 8pm. There is no longer a minimum session length, but a single session cannot exceed 10 hours.
6. The 30 hours can be ‘stretched’ across the whole year to include school holidays and weekends.
For example, you could opt to deliver the 1140 hours of the extended entitlement over 48 weeks of the year, which would amount to 23 hours and 45 minutes per week, rather than 30 hours. Or all 52 weeks if you'd like!
7. You do not have to deliver all 1140 hours yourself.
The extended entitlement can be taken with up to two providers per day. Parents may therefore choose to split their 1140 hours between two or more providers, for example between a childminder and sessional nursery or pre-school.
You should speak now to other childminders or sessional providers near you about the possibility of sharing delivery of the entitlement.
8. The rates for all funded hours are changing from April 2017 based on the new Early Years National Funding Formula.
Contact your local authority to find out your new rate. To find out more about how the new rates have been calculated, read our FAQs on early years funding.
9. The rate does not include consumables (meals, snacks, nappies, wipes, etc.) or additional services (outings, classes, etc.).
You can charge parents for these as long as the additional charges are not a condition of taking up a funded place.
10. From September 2018, local authorities will be required to pay childminders monthly.
Three things you should do right now:
Find out your new hourly rate from your local authority
Speak to parents and other local providers about their plans
Decide whether or not you will participate, including how many hours you will offer per week and when you will offer them
Need more information? Read our FAQs on early years funding and 30 hours
Please take two minutes to fill out PACEY's annual childminder fees survey.
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