The government wants nurseries and kindergartens to make early morning childcare available when extended free hours become available next year.
From 2017, families across with three and four-year old children will be entitled to a total of 30 hours free childcare per week.
The 15 hours currently available should be accessible from 7am and run through till 7pm. But in a newly published consultation document, the Department of Education reports that, in a large scale survey of 19,300 parents, “a significant proportion would like to be able to access childcare in the early morning or later in the evening to cover shift patterns”.
As a result, the government has now proposed that childcare providers extend their services one hour in either direction, making them available from 6am to 8pm, if there is sufficient local demand.
The consultation document declares:
“…we recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and that the type of demand for childcare will vary from area to area and from parent to parent. The government will therefore be encouraging local authorities and providers to assess the types of demand for childcare in their area, and work in partnership to ensure that the market can respond to this demand.”
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah insisted that
“Hard-working parents have all sorts of shift patterns, so childcare needs to be more flexible as well as more affordable.”
Read the consultation document here.
Photo by Steven Depolo via Flickr