Supporting solutions to the challenge of delivering early years entitlements

The Department for Education (DfE) awarded our Childcare Works team a national support contract. Our project worked with providers and local authorities on the implementation of the extended entitlement to 30 hours for working parents 2016-2020. All content from the Childcare Works website has now been transferred to DfE.

Childcare Works is a partnership between Hempsall’s and Mott MacDonald and was created following our Achieving Two Year Olds (A2YO) DfE national support contracts in 2012 and 2016. During which, we worked on the implementation of the free early learning entitlement for least advantaged two-year-olds. A project that saw take-up levels rise to nearly 70% of eligible children.

Childcare Works had the aim of achieving the delivery of childcare for two- three- and four-year-olds in ways in which high-quality childcare is accessible, flexible and affordable. In doing so, we worked directly with providers, local authority early years teams, and their partners, and central government departments.

The additional 15 hours, for families where both parents are working, brought significant challenges and opportunities in enabling parents to make work pay and support local job creation in the sector. Our key role was to enable these benefits to be realised by families and children across the country whilst supporting providers with the challenge of business change.

We knew such reforms bring many challenges and our team is experienced in finding solutions – as we did with the two-year-old entitlement. We provided a data and intelligence led approach, where our universal offer to all local authorities in England was overlaid with a significant allocation of resource to a targeted programme. This programme focused on addressing the barriers to implementation, and directed time and effort where it was needed most and would have the biggest impact.

We had a robust programme of practical and effective support, challenge and solutions for all types of providers and every local authority. We were strongly focused on sufficiency, flexibility, two-year-olds, and access for children with SEND. Our role was to support many of these outcomes.

Key elements of the project:

  • Progress Sharing Meetings (PS Meetings) each term for local authorities
  • A regular Progress Review Form (PR Form) to monitor LA progress and identify support and challenge needs
  • Each local authority had a nominated Programme Adviser
  • A programme of In-depth sessions looked at issues, barriers and solutions in detail
  • Childcare Matters information sessions for all types of early years and childcare provider.
  • Training for trainers and Business Support Officers on solutions for 30-hours and business change
  • Training and information for providers: flexible staffing, occupancy rates, business remodelling, economies of scale and scope.
  • National progress dissemination meetings.
  • Online resources for local authorities posted on LGA Knowledge Hub
  • Online resources for providers with signpost information on the Foundation Years website and email.
  • Direct support for local authorities on a targeted basis: one-to-one and small group, business and action planning, childcare sufficiency assessment, local strategy and partnership facilitation, management support/briefings.