More than 150,000 two-year-olds taking up funded places – surpassing Government target

Over 150,000 two-year-olds have secured a funded place under the first phase of the expanded offer that came into effect at the beginning of this week, the Government has announced.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), as of today (Friday 5 April), 150,459 childcare codes for the funded twos offer (15 hours a week) have been validated by early years providers – surpassing the take-up expectation set for early April.

Government starts to roll out childcare expansion, as sector highlights ongoing ‘challenges’

It says it expects thousands more two-year-old places will continue to be secured over the coming weeks.

The announcement comes after parents raised concerns over a lack of available funded places, challenging the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on the day the first phase of the ‘landmark’ childcare offer came into effect. And follows the education secretary, Gillian Keegan’s admittance that an additional 40,000 staff will be needed to deliver on the full roll out of the expanded hours policy.

‘Our childcare support is already helping well over a million families across the country.’

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said, ‘Our plan is working, with 150,459 more children now benefitting from quality childcare, and we expect more parents to take up the offer moving forward.

‘Our childcare support is already helping well over a million families across the country, and we will stick to our plan to deliver a brighter future through security and certainty for hard-working parents.’

Bright Horizons’ executive director, Iain Colledge, added, ‘We appreciate the Government’s recognition of the importance of early years, and we welcome the 2-year-old funding coming into effect from April. We are pleased that the persistence demonstrated by providers has resulted in driving progress in this area as sustainable funding rates and funding certainty are crucial for maintaining the health of the sector.’

15 hours for nine-month-olds

On 12 May, applications for the second phase of the expanded offer – 15 hours for children from nine months old – will open, ahead of being able to access places from September.

By September 2025 all working parents will be able to access 30 hours of ‘free’ childcare until their child starts school.

According to the DfE, parents taking up the full 30 hours will save an average of £6,900 per year on childcare costs, a figure refuted by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed due to rising fees and providers having to charge for ‘extras’ due to Government underfunding of places.

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