Catterick mum urges parents not to miss out on funded childcare

Harry Thompson.

A Catterick mother-of-two is urging parents not to miss out on extra help with childcare costs.

Working parents of children older than nine months in North Yorkshire can now apply for funded childcare starting from September this year.

The initiative marks the second stage of the Government’s expanded childcare scheme for working families of younger children in England.

Phase one, which began last month (April), saw eligible employed parents of two-year-olds able to claim up to 15 hours of government-funded childcare.

Phase two will see up to 15 hours of government-funded childcare extended to eligible working parents of children aged more than nine months to three years. Applications opened on Sunday (May 12).

Heather Thompson, whose 10-month-old son, Harry, began attending nursery in January aged seven months, said the early years childcare offer is a huge boost to those planning a family, another child or wishing to return to work to take up new employment. It could potentially be life-changing for thousands of working families.

Mrs Thompson, who lives in Catterick, said: “Harry has absolutely loved going to nursery since day one. The working parent entitlement has made it so much easier for me to go back to work straight after maternity leave.

“Without the knowledge that we would be eligible for government-funded hours from September, it would not have been an option for our family as it would have been otherwise impossible to pay for two children who are in nursery.”

She added: “As the Government’s funding can be used in conjunction with tax-free childcare, it will make our childcare bill so much more affordable and allows me to progress with my career without having to take a career break.

“This scheme is hopefully going to make a massive difference to parents who work. They are urged to apply and not miss out on crucial funding.”

To qualify for the new government childcare funding, parents must:

  • Be in work.
  • Earn a minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage.
  • Earn less than £100,000 a year.

This applies to both parents in a couple so each parent must fit the criteria and to single parents in a single parent household.  Parents must meet the working family criteria to be eligible for the government funded childcare entitlement.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “I welcome the Government’s effort in investing in childcare support for working parents.

“Changes to childcare mean many more families in North Yorkshire may benefit from a funded place for their children. Therefore, it is vital for potentially eligible working parents and carers of nine-month-old children to start planning now if they are going to take up the Government’s offer of funded childcare from September.”

The authority’s champion for young people, Cllr Alyson Baker, added: “Any parents who are eligible and are either working or want to go back to work should absolutely apply for this government funding.”

Anyone wishing to find out more information or to claim their government funded childcare is asked to log onto https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/children-and-families/early-education-and-childcare/working-parent-entitlement-april-2024