Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
Free childcare to be extended to foster carers
Nadhim Zahawi has announced that foster carers will receive the 30 hours free childcare offer for children in their care for the first time from September 2018.
The extension allows foster parents to take up the additional 15 hours of free childcare already available to other working parents since September 2017. As well as giving foster parents the same rights as other working families in England, the Minister for Children and Families also revealed that over 340,000 children were in a 30 hour place in the first year of the policy.
Parents benefiting from the 30 hours free childcare offer can save up to £5,000 per year on their childcare costs, meaning some parents have been able to increase their work hours or work more flexibly. The 30 hours free childcare offer is backed by the government’s record investment of around £6 billion per year in childcare, which includes an extra £1 billion per year by 2020 to deliver the free entitlements.
Zahawi said: “We know childcare is one of the biggest issues affecting working parents of all kinds, which is why I am pleased that 340,000 people have benefitted from 30 hours of free childcare. Foster parents do an incredible job caring for children whose young lives have been disrupted in difficult and often traumatic ways, bringing them back into a supportive family unit and providing a more settled home life.
“We want to make sure foster parents have the option of being able to work on top of their caring responsibilities, where it works for them and the children they care for. For many, this could make the difference between being able to foster or not, so it’s absolutely right that we support them with this challenging but rewarding role.”
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, added: “We warmly welcome this announcement which has rectified the initial exclusion of fostered children from this policy, and are pleased that the Department for Education listened to our calls for change. The 15 extra hours will not be appropriate for all fostered children, but some foster carers, particularly family and friends carers and those offering long-term fostering, will need or want to combine fostering with work outside of the home, and this change will enable them to be able to do so. This is particularly good news for the recruitment of foster carers and is consistent with the message from government that fostering can be combined with other work.”