Applications for funded childcare open for parents of nine-month-olds

Working parents of children older than nine months can now apply for funded childcare starting from September this year.

It marks the second step of the government’s expanded childcare offer for working families of younger children in England.

Parents of two-year-olds have been able to access 15 hours of funded childcare since last month.

This will be extended to working parents of nine-month-olds from September, with applications opening on Sunday for those whose children reach that age by August 31.

Parents can apply for their eligibility code via the childcare service, which they then take to their chosen childcare provider to validate.

The full rollout will see support increase to 30 hours a week by September 2025.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that more than 210,000 children have already benefited from 15 hours of government-funded care.

“Our full expansion will save parents an average of £6,900 a year, meaning no parent has to choose between their career and caring for their child,” he said.

Last year, just two thirds of local authorities felt confident they could deliver the rollout for April, but with government support, 100% have done so, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said.

“That was only the beginning, and we will continue to support the sector so that every eligible parent can access the high-quality childcare they deserve.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan criticised the plan Credit: James Manning/PA

All local authorities have reported they are currently meeting the demand from parents for childcare places, according to the Department for Education (DfE).

A 1% increase - 15,000 childcare places - will be needed for this September, the department said.

A further 70,000 more places are likely to be needed for September next year, according to previous DfE projections.

It estimated that 40,000 additional staff, compared with 2023, are required by September 2025 for the full rollout.

Whitehall’s spending watchdog last month warned that the government’s childcare expansion could affect the quality of provision or places for young children.

The risk of an influx of “inexperienced” early years staff, alongside higher staff to child supervision ratios for two-year-olds, may jeopardise the quality of childcare provision, according to the National Audit Office.

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