Councillor Stallard added: “I am looking forward to receiving, later this month, a report about how we are meeting our duty to secure sufficient childcare capacity across the county. However, I already know that our Services for Young Children Team works tirelessly to support childcare and early years education providers, ensuring there are enough places for children of pre-school age across the county.”
The Early Years National Funding Formula provides the governance in how funds will be distributed and as 95% of this funding is required to be passed on providers, it is expected that all Hampshire approved providers will see some benefit.
The funding announcement provides a small increase in the early years funding rates. A proportion of the money will go towards ensuring nurseries and childminders can support some of the most disadvantaged children, with an increase in hourly funding for local authorities offering 15 hours free childcare for eligible two-year olds. Those providing free 30 hours places, for working parents of three and four-year olds, will also receive an increase in the hourly rate. It will also provide continuity funding for a further years for the three local authority maintained nurseries.
“We will be informing our providers about the rates shortly and we know that this will be welcomed by them, helping to contribute to the cost pressures they have been experiencing”, continued Councillor Stallard.
She concluded: “Early years support and education is vital in laying the foundations for children to be confident learners and equipped with the basic skills they need to enjoy their education when they go to school. This is something that is done very well in Hampshire with families having access to a good variety of high-quality early years childcare - over 95% of childminders who are qualified to provide early years education, nurseries and pre-school providers are judged to be Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. That’s 2% more than the national average.”
In Hampshire, of the families who are eligible for free early years childcare for two-year olds, 72% are taking up their funded place entitlement – which is also better than the national average. There is also high take up of the entitlement for eligible three and four year olds (98%) and, in 2019, the number of three and four year olds benefiting from the free 30 hours scheme has reached more than 11,200 children.