The Department for Education's (DfE) Code of Practice requires local authorities to have an ongoing role to ask parents how would like to access their free early years education entitlement flexibly. The Local Authority also needs to work with early years education providers to offer provision that matches parents' changing needs as much as possible.
In 'Next Steps for Early Learning and Childcare', published in January 2009, the Government set out plans to increase flexibility by making it possible for parents to "stretch" their free provision, by having the same number of hours across more weeks of the year. The 'stretched offer' has been made available by providers in Hampshire since September 2012.
Parents can continue to access their child's entitlement over 38 weeks per funded year and this 38 week 'standard' delivery will remain the minimum entitlement. However, giving parents the opportunity to access the free entitlement in a more "stretched" way could enable them to budget for additional hours and balance work or other commitments consistently across the year.