Last year, the Department for Education (DfE) announced it was extending the offer to foster carers following lobbying by the chair of the education select committee Robert Halfon MP.
It has today confirmed that foster parents with three- and four-year-olds will be able to access the 30 hours of funded childcare from September, giving them the same rights as other working parents.
New figures on the take-up of the 30 hours for the summer term (1 April to 31 August 2018), also published today by the DfE, show around 339,974 three- and four-year-olds are in a 30 hours place. This compares to 294,000 who were estimated to be in a place during the spring term (1 January to 31 March 2018).
According to the DfE, of the 30-hour codes issued for the summer term, 90 per cent are taking up a place.
Minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi said, ‘We know childcare is one of the biggest issues affecting working parents of all kinds, which is why I am pleased that 340,000 people have benefited from 30 hours of free childcare. Foster parents do an incredible job caring for children whose young lives have been disrupted in difficult and often traumatic ways, bringing them back into a supportive family unit and providing a more settled home life.
‘We want to make sure foster parents have the option of being able to work on top of their caring responsibilities, where it works for them and the children they care for. For many, this could make the difference between being able to foster or not, so it’s absolutely right that we support them with this challenging but rewarding role.’
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said, ‘We warmly welcome this announcement which has rectified the initial exclusion of fostered children from this policy, and are pleased that the Department for Education listened to our calls for change.
‘The 15 extra hours will not be appropriate for all fostered children, but some foster carers, particularly family and friends carers and those offering long-term fostering, will need or want to combine fostering with work outside of the home, and this change will enable them to be able to do so. This is particularly good news for the recruitment of foster carers and is consistent with the message from Government that fostering can be combined with other work.’