Free Childcare Hours Increased

Mums and dads in Bournemouth are being given extra 3 and a half hours free childcare a week.

From September, parents will be given 15 hours which must be used over at least 3 days at nurseries, pre-schools and child minders.

Bournemouth Borough Council say it'll ensure private, voluntary and independent nurseries get a fair recompense for the free places that have to be offered to eligible three and four-year-olds. Every eligible child aged three and four is entitled to 12.5 hours of free childcare each week, and this will rise to 15 hours from September 2010 in a bid by the government to help parents juggle work and childcare commitments.

Councillor Malcolm Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, said: “This is great news for nurseries and early years’ settings in Bournemouth. The new funding formula means that we will be better able to implement the free childcare entitlement and that all nurseries, pre-schools and childminders receive a fair share of funding.”

But Peter Ward who runs The Bournemouth Day Nursery told Heart parents will end up paying more for childcare in the long run.

"Most nurseries will need parents to top up to their normal fees and therefore there will be an additional cost to parents in the private sector."

And he told us the scheme favours some parents over others:

"A mother who has to work 5 days a week - their funding which goes towards to fees is only going to cover them a maximum of half the time, so the people who need help the most are the people who just aren't going to get it. The people who either work part time or who don't need to work at all are getting the better part of the deal."

From April this year, early years settings in Bournemouth including day nurseries, pre-schools and childminders, will receive increased funding of £3.76 per hour per child. Previously, they received a base rate of £3.46 per hour per child. Additional supplements relating to deprivation and quality will also be included.

But private nurseries like The Bournemouth Day Nursery will have to increase their standards to ensure they can recieve the funding. And this cost, according to Peter, may have to be paid for by the parents.