The government announced plans last year to expand access to wraparound childcare for primary school aged children from September 2024. With £289 million in funding, the goal is to support local authorities and providers across England to introduce or expand childcare provision from 8am-6pm, enabling more parents to work and boosting labour market participation.
What is Wraparound Childcare?
Wraparound childcare refers to care before and after normal school hours. It’s designed to “wrap around” the school day, filling in the gaps both early morning and late afternoon when many parents are still at work. This allows parents to drop children off early and pick them up later, better aligning school schedules with typical work hours.
The focus of this new initiative is on children from reception up to year 6. It funds additional places with regulated providers like schools, nurseries, childminders and community organisations. The care takes place either on school premises or nearby facilities, so parents don’t have to shuttle kids between multiple sites.
Role of Local Authorities
Local councils will take the lead in managing the programme in their areas. Key responsibilities include:
- Mapping supply and demand for places
- Creating costed delivery plans
- Distributing funding to providers to expand capacity
- Supporting providers with start-up and expansion
- Promoting the programme locally to parents and providers
The programme provides both capacity funding for the councils themselves, and programme funding to pass through to childcare providers. On average 11% can be used for internal costs of running the scheme.
Funding will be allocated proportionally based on the current gaps in provision across areas, tilted towards communities with the greatest need. It’s also frontloaded, with higher amounts for the initial 2024-2025 school year to support start-up costs.
Expectations for Providers
Though schools aren’t required to offer wraparound care directly, they are expected to engage with the programme and support their local authority. This includes communicating options to parents, even when signposting them to third party provision.
Any provider participating in the programme must adhere to statutory safeguarding policies and meet certain quality standards. Ofsted registration is mandatory for private and voluntary organisations. Staff requirements like ratios and qualifications will depend on the type, hours and ages of children served.
The aim is to create inclusive services accessible to all. Providers should make reasonable adjustments for children with disabilities. Care should be affordable, with parents able to use Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit. Food must comply with national standards.
The programme launches this school year, with local authorities submitting delivery plans in early 2024. The goal is expanded wraparound places available to parents from September 2024 onwards. Funding continues through March 2026 to establish provision and build sustainability.
With this significant investment, the government aims to make wraparound care available for any family that needs it. This will remove a major barrier for parents, especially mothers, improving access to work and boosting the economy.
It promises to make a meaningful difference for families across England.