North Yorkshire County Council is one of four new councils which have signed up to deliver the Government’s flagship 30 hours childcare offer early, before the programme rolls out nationally in September.

Along with Dorset, Leicestershire and Tower Hamlets, it will join the eight original “‘Early Implementer’’ councils that launched the offer last September, building on their work so far in testing delivery benefits and challenges.

Each council will work with nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in their region to begin offering the 30 hours of free childcare places per week to all eligible three and four-year-olds from April, doubling the existing 15 hours entitlement currently available for parents.

The 30 hours offer could save working parents about £5,000 per year with the cost of childcare, helping remove the barriers to getting back to work or encouraging them to increase their hours where desired.

The Early Implementer programme went live in September 2016 and is on track to meet its target of providing free places for 5,000 working parents. Families in Hertfordshire, Newham, Northumberland, Portsmouth, Staffordshire, Swindon, Wigan and York are already benefiting from the scheme.

The four additional councils to join the programme will have the opportunity to test specific elements of childcare delivery, such as rural geography or levels of deprivation. Each will work closely with the existing Early Implementer councils which will be able to offer advice throughout the launch period and early delivery.

Councillor Arthur Barker, Executive Member for Schools and Early Years, said: “Here in North Yorkshire we are pleased to have this opportunity to offer eligible parents the extended entitlement from the beginning of the summer term. This will enable them to make their childcare costs more affordable and to consider their working options for the future.

“It will enable our Local Authority to support providers in their preparations to deliver this new offer; and will enable us to review the childcare market across our large rural county to ensure that places are available where they are required to meet parents’ needs.’’

For more information visit http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/article/24354/Early-education-places-and-funding