AROUND eight million hours of funded childcare for three and four-year-olds are set to be available for working parents in Staffordshire.
The Government says the launch of the 30 hours’ free childcare on September 1 will help thousands of eligible parents across the county.
The offer of increased hours from 15 to 30 hours was trialled in Staffordshire last year and is now being rolled out nationally.
Parents are being reminded that they need to check if they qualify and sign up for the scheme in advance at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to secure the 30 hours.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The trial scheme showed what a huge difference these extra hours of childcare can make to people’s lives.
“For some families it puts more money in their pockets by either saving on fees, or allowing a parent to go out to work, or it simply makes a massive improvement to their work-life balance.
“At the same time the feedback from employers was that those benefiting seemed happier and more settled knowing that their childcare was sorted.
“We are encouraging parents to find out more and sign up if they qualify, before the offer goes live on September 1.”
Depending on take-up, it’s estimated the parents of around 7,000 children in Staffordshire could be entitled to the childcare which can be used during term time, or more flexibly over the year.
To be eligible both parents, or the parent in a single-parent family, must earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours a week at the national minimum wage, or living wage.
In Staffordshire 96 per cent of pre-school places in are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Mark Sutton added: “These extra hours of high quality childcare help children get the best start before they arrive at school – they’re fantastic for children and parents and helps businesses recruit and retain staff.”