Delivering 30 hours flexibly

Childminder Debbie Southern from England has been involved in piloting the 30 hours project in Swindon and will be offering 30 hours funded hours in September. Debbie’s setting is run by three practitioners and they have up to 10 under 5s. 

We will have three 3-and 4- year olds claiming their 30 hours in September. Our local authority has provided a supplement of 70p per hour for providers who offer 30 hours over 48 weeks and in 10-hour blocks, which is the reason I was able to offer the places. With this additional payment it means I can stretch the funding. Within Swindon we are incredibly fortunate as we are paid a higher rate compared to other areas. In fact our borough is really supportive of the childcare sector as a whole and regardless of the type of setting – be it nursery, crèche, playgroup or childminder, if they are open full time, they will receive the same funding.

I personally charge a set hourly rate if children attend all year round, and parents are then given the choice of providing a packed lunch or paying an additional charge for a meal and a weekly outings fee. In all cases they pay for food and soft play (this was already being charged prior to the 30 hours coming in) and they provide their own nappies anyway. If a child just comes for funded hours and has lunch I will provide snacks but if they provide their own lunch they need to bring a snack too. This way of working ensures I am not left out of pocket.

We are happy to offer funded places, to stretch sessions and be flexible but it must fit in with us too, otherwise we are not providing a good service to the parents of other children. All of the funded children that we have, and will have, are existing children and not new due to the 30 hours.

The benefits of funded hours to parents is obvious. Some are able to work longer hours, others can get some sleep if they're coming off a shift. They can use the hours to share quality time for themselves or get organised during their off time, resulting in more quality family time. And of course there are the benefits to the child that high quality childcare brings.

The big benefit to our business is that with more funding being available to more children I believe demand will outstrip availability and therefore we will be able to fill any gaps that we have.

We don’t restrict the number of places to funded children as the rate is actually higher than our normal rate BUT it must fit in with our setting. We work to a six hour, two days per week minimum, but we allow parents to have any combination of hours if we have the space. Any hours left over could be stretched and used in the holidays.

Debbie with some of the children she cares for.

Debbie's top tips

  • Decide what you want from your business, how much money do you need to make each day? Does funding pay you enough to achieve this?
  • To achieve progress with a child’s development how many hours do they need to come to you as a minimum? How do you achieve this?
  • Work out how many funded places you can afford to offer. Remember that you are a running a business and you have choices to make about the service you can offer. 

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