Family & Home

Extended nursery funding: pros & cons

30 hours free funding to send your child to nursery while you work may sound like a dream come true – but there are hidden problems…

For many the thought of having funded hours to send your child to nursery will be a hugely welcomed relief.

In essence, the childcare provision is being made available to enable parents to go to work without having to pay for large nursery bills.

However, not all nurseries will offer the provision and some parents aren’t aware that the 30 hours funding is not available all year round.

The good news is that the previous 15 hours per week funding will remain in place, but families will have to ‘qualify’ for the additional 15 hours funding to take advantage of the full 30 hours.

The criteria is available on the Bristol City Council website, in summary you and your partner must each expect to earn at least £120 per week to access the ‘extended hours’.

So why aren’t all nurseries offering this new funding? According to this article many childcare providers felt the extra hours would have a negative impact on their business and felt they would have to increase other fees to balance out the loss in income. The money the government pays the business may not be considered enough to cover the cost of offering the provision.

Thankfully a great many childcare providers across North Bristol are, including Abacus nurseries based in Meadowbrook, Filton Hill, Mangotsfield and Baileys Court.

Here’s a full list of the nurseries in Bristol offering the additional hours.

Laura Haghani is a nurse, from Filton, who’ll be taking advantage of the funding: “I’ve had to limit the number of hours I work as I just couldn’t afford childcare costs. Because I work shifts I can now afford to put my son in nursery during the day, so I can have a little bit of me time to get house work done or shopping done without having to worry that he’s bored or needs entertaining. I can then go work a night shift or an evening feeling less pressure to get the normal day-to-day things done as well.”

Other things to consider when applying for the funding is that the 30 hours is available in term-time only.

If you want to access the funding throughout the year, to enable you to go to work in the school holidays, this can be done, but your weekly hours will drop to 22 funded per week.

Also, if you have a four-year-old at starting school this year, you won’t be entitled to claim the funded hours to pay for after school clubs, as the funding goes directly to the school itself.

Here’s some things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about the extended hours offer:

  • Ensure you meet the eligibilty criteria
  • Check whether your nursery offers the funded hours
  • Will your nursery be increasing other costs?
  • Opt for the correct level of hours per week to suit your circumstances

Are you a parent in North Bristol using the funded hours? What’s your experience? We’d love to hear from you…

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