On 15th March 2023, the government announced sweeping reforms to childcare funding in the UK. We were extremely happy to see these policies placing childminding front and centre as the future of sustainable childcare.
We set out below what each section might mean for parents using tiney childminders.
Extension to 30 hours’ funded childcare
The section of the childcare budget likely to be of most interest to parents is the expansion to the funded hours scheme to include childcare for 1 and 2 year old children (in addition to the current schemes for 3&4 year olds).
Beginning in April 2024 this will be rolled out in three phases for households where both parents are working:
April 2024: Eligible two-year-olds will have access to 15 hours of free childcare per week
September 2024: Eligible children between nine months and two years will have access to 15 hours
September 2025: Eligible children between nine months and three years will have access to 30 hours
This means that for 2023 there will be no change to the current funded hours offer. The changes will only come in to effect when the new updates are rolled out in 2024.
Under the current rules, some 2 year olds can access 15 hours from the term after they turn 2 years old, if the family meet certain criteria listed here.
Currently all 3 & 4 year olds can access 15 hours from the term after they turn 3, and children of working parents can have this topped up to 30 hours a week.
If you would like to use 15 or 30 hours of funded childcare with your tiney childminder, we recommend discussing this with them the term before you'd like to use this. If they are happy to accept funding, a new contract will be put in place which will outline the hours of care that are funded, and any charges for hours over funding or subsistence fees to contribute to the cost of food, nappies, and excursions.
At the current time not all tiney childminders accept funding, as it is a lot of admin and is often paid at a much lower rate than their standard hourly rate, with most payments only being made once or twice a term. It can also take a while for Local Authorities to set up childminders to be able to accept payment - so it's good to give as much notice as possible for this. We very much hope these issues will be addresses as part of the roll out of the new policies and tiney will be campaigning on behalf of our childminders at government level.
Some childminders may request a subsistence fee - this is to cover their costs for consumables like food, nappies, excursions, and other costs to their business that the rates paid by their Local Authorities for the funded hours don't cover. They will discuss this with you as part of the process of creating a new contract.
The government is relaxing ratio rules for childcare providers enabling one adult to look after five 2-year-olds, up from four children under-3 at present in group setiings (nurseries and preschools).
This policy will be effective in September later this year, but it is important to note that the new ratio is not an obligation for providers or parents – and all tiney childminders should keep to the ratios they feel comfortable with and are approved for.
Expansion of government-funded wraparound childcare
The Chancellor announced that the government will be introducing a “national pathfinder scheme” for wraparound childcare in England, established with the aim to provide all primary-aged children access to local 8 am - 6 pm care by September 2026.
£289m funding will be rolled out to schools and local authorities over the 2024-25 and 2025-26 academic year. It’s likely that many local authorities will distribute this funding to childminders, who are already offering this service. This would be fantastic news for parents and children who will be able to continue using providers they know and trust with no disruption.
Expanded childcare allowance for parents using Universal Credit
The government has increased the Universal Credit childcare cost maximum amounts to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children. It will also cover this cost upfront to parents claiming UC who are moving into work or increasing their hours. This is a big change and should make finding and agreeing childcare much simpler for parents claiming Universal credit.
New streamlined Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum
The government is planning to hold a consultation over introducing a new streamlined Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum specifically for childminders.
While it is not clear what this curriculum will look like, we will actively participate in the consultation to make sure that it protects the integrity of EYFS and reflects the high quality of education that our community of childminders provide every single day.
If you want to know more about how the changes could affect you or your childminder please contact the tiney team directly and we will be happy to update you.