Initial councils selected for piloting wraparound childcare programs

The government has selected 16 councils in England to establish and execute wraparound childcare services for parents with children of primary school age.

Under the proposed scheme, parents of children in this age group would have the opportunity to access local childcare services from 08:00 to 18:00.

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that the implementation of the program will commence in the upcoming summer.

According to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, the proposed plans would have a transformative impact on working families.

The Department for Education (DfE) has stated that all councils in England will receive a portion of £289 million in funding to facilitate the provision of wraparound childcare starting from January 2024.

A subset of the 16 chosen local authority areas is anticipated to be the initial implementers of the wraparound care program from the upcoming summer, with plans to extend the scheme to additional councils starting from September 2024.

Laura Mayes, the lead for children’s services at Wiltshire Council, expressed her contentment and excitement regarding the council’s participation in the pilot program for wraparound childcare, expressing her delight in being involved.

She remarked, “We have already established a robust collaborative partnership with our schools, out-of-school clubs, and early years providers, and we recognize the essential importance of providing reliable childcare options for families.”

During the earlier delivery of the Spring Budget this year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt declared that the government would guarantee the provision of wraparound care in all schools across England by September 2026.

The Chancellor announced that additional funding would be made accessible to childcare providers starting from the 2024/25 period. The Department for Education (DfE) stated its intention to launch a consultation to determine the distribution of this funding.

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In another aspect of the Budget, Mr. Hunt revealed plans to expand the existing scheme that provides some families with 30 free hours of childcare per week to also include coverage for younger children.

According to the Office of Budget Responsibility, this expansion could enable approximately 60,000 additional parents of young children to participate in the workforce.

However, Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies expressed skepticism, stating that he doubted the changes would have a significant impact.

The 16 selected councils are Barnsley, Blackburn with Darwen, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Cornwall, Dudley, Gateshead, Hampshire, Hartlepool, Hull, Merton, Newham, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Sheffield, and Wiltshire.

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