Could childcare funding be extended to one-year olds?

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The Liberal Democrats are likely to consider a proposal to extend free childcare to one-year olds at their party conference this week.

The proposal is designed to help bridge the gap between maternity leave and nursery provision, providing children between the ages of one and two with 10 free hours of care per week. Plans would also see all two-year olds receive funding for 15 hours per week, not just those deemed to be most needy.  In addition, three and four-year olds would receive 20 funded-hours per week rather than 15.

The radical changes have been closely reviewed by the Deputy Prime Minister and his advisors, and are likely to receive party-wide support on Saturday.  This could bring the Liberal Democrats back into conflict with the Conservatives on the difficult ambitions of delivering low-cost childcare, following Nick Clegg’s u-turn on ratios earlier this year.

Whilst the investment would be significant, it should encourage more women to return to work after having a child and boost the childcare industry and economy as whole. George Osborne recently stated that a million women are “missing” from the UK workforce, many of whom are mothers who feel it is not worth working because childcare is too expensive.

Women considering returning to part-time work after maternity leave, in particular, find it is cheaper to stay at home with the children than take up their job. It is the high costs during this two-year gap, between maternity leave of up to a year, and when the child starts to receive free childcare aged three – or two for lower-income families – that are putting women off work, say Lib Dem advisers. While the dilemma also faces fathers, it is mainly mothers who make the decision to give up their careers.

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8 thoughts on “Could childcare funding be extended to one-year olds?

  • September 17, 2013 at 8:47 am
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    This is all very well but there is actually 39 weeks in the school year one week is allowed for schools to use as non pupil days. We have continuously pointed this out to our local authority who told us we had to follow the school term dates my answer to them if your not paying for that extra week we close our pre school a week early in July. The amount they pay is nowhere near our costs. Yet they expect us to reduce a parents fees by our rate not there’s for the 15 hours. So we as providers lose out every which way.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 11:06 am
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    I think this is a great idea. Working in a Children and Family centre in a poor area, this will benefit a lot of families and help working parents too.
    I feel that the hourly rate for funding should be increased so we can use it towards a cooked meal for the children. The funding covers sessions only and some of our families would really benefit from their child having a proper cooked meal.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 8:28 am
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    keely>”Cencus forms, joining forms, leaving forms, accounts, cost analysis, invoicing etc etc are painstakingly time consuming and in addition to any of the settings own documentation.”

    Census is a central government requirement and generates the available funding for the Local Authority. The rest should be part of the sustainable activities of a well run setting, whether claiming Early Years Funding or not.

    Nice ideas, but I suppose some argument could be had about whether 1 and 2 year olds should routinely be in childcare. Welcome the extension to 20 hours for 3/4 year olds.

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  • September 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm
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    Any reduction of childcare fees for parents is a huge bonus and obviously something that any working parent is thankful for.

    As it stands unless a mother is earning a very good wage there is no point in her returning to her career until her child gets the funded hours. encouraging wmen to return to work after her maternity leave is good, but currently there is a lack of insentive. A mother feels guilty and broken hearted, her baby is still young and vulnerable. Many mother will only break even or be slightly better off (more than 1 child and our often worse off) so its an easy decision to stay at home abd continue to nurture her child

    However – careful consdieration needs to be given to the whole funded hour program. Central government are awarding Local Authority £6 per hour for each child, after admin, staff costs etc are removed from this fee it is reduced to a front line amount of around £3.50. Furthermore not only is this not enoug to cover thr hourly rate of most providers it also involves a mountain of paperwork and time thus actually increasing the base line cost of these hours so the difference in profit is squeezed further or the loss is actually made worse due t the processes.

    Cencus forms, joining forms, leaving forms, accounts, cost analysis, invoicing etc etc are painstakingly time consuming and in addition to any of the settings own documentation.

    Giving funding for 38 weeks of the year is madness! it just does not make sense. Funded hours should be given over a 47 week period for full time workers (this takes into account the average 28 days leave for parents each year) and lower for those working part time. Parent do not have the luxury of 14 weeks off! so those who claim their hours at a year round setting are faced with bills for the non qualifying weeks.

    Surely there is a better way?

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  • September 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm
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    That’s all good but what happens to childminder trying to work with children this age we will be out of work

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  • September 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm
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    Whilst it is a nice gesture to provide funding for 1 year olds – 10 hours is not enough hours for a 1 or 2 year old to attend nursery as the short hours means a lack of consistency and continuity of care. It would be strategically very difficult to provide these short hours for young children and the government do not pay private nurseries
    enough to cover costs, let alone make any profit. So – No – until we can be treated fairly – I would not agree with this.

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  • September 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm
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    Whilst this is great news for parents, how will this be financially supported for the early years providers? In East Sussex for funded 3 and 4 year olds, providers receive £3.54 per hour per child, which is completely inadequate given that most hourly rates in the area are £3.80 upwards, meaning that most providers make a financial loss on each funded child. Unless the amount Is increased significantly, many providers will close due to financial loss and at best quality of provision will go down as providers will not be able to afford qualified staff.

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  • September 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm
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    It will be great for 1 year olds to receive funding and increased hours for 3-4 year olds etc. It is when they talk about funding for childcare that really is confusing for parents as the funding is for 38 weeks per year only, this is great if all parents can work academic weeks only!!

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