Evidence from the first year of the national rollout of the 30 hours free childcare offer for three- and four-year-olds in England suggests that the policy has had a successful launch.
Parents of young children (in particular mothers) report that the offer is helping them to return to work or extend working hours, and there is evidence that well-being for working families is improved. And childcare providers have largely been able to offer extended hours without reducing provision for other children, largely through adjusting financial models. However given that it is still relatively early days – the rollout began only a year ago – many providers are taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to the longer-term impacts.
These are some of the key conclusions from a new report, published today by the Department for Education, evaluating the first year of the national rollout of 30 hours childcare. The evaluation was undertaken by Frontier Economics in collaboration with NatCen Social Research and researchers from the University of East London.
In September 2017, working parents of three- and four-year-olds in England became entitled to 30 hours of free early education for up to 38 weeks each year. This was the national rollout extending the previous universal offer of 15 hours, which had been tested and evaluated in a number of Local Authorities last year.
The evaluation drew primarily on evidence collected from 12 Local Authorities (LAs), including qualitative interviews with parents, providers and LA staff, and quantitative surveys of parents and providers. Other evidence came from the 2018 Early Years Census and School Census Data for these LAs and revisits to eight of the LAs who had participated in the early tests of the 30 hours offer.
The evaluation is being launched today at a celebration event at the House of Commons.
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