WIRRAL’S working parents are being asked to help the council understand what level of childcare will be needed in future. 

With the Government rolling out additional funded childcare hours for more working parents in three phases, Wirral Council needs to understand how families are using, or plan to use childcare, to ensure enough places are available. 

Under phase two of a three-phase rollout, working parents with children aged from nine months up to the age of three will be eligible for 15 hours of childcare where they meet qualifying criteria, by September 2024.

Through a new survey, the council will ask parents of children who will turn nine months of age by September 2024, to share if and how they may be planning to use the additional hours. 

The expansion to childcare is being introduced nationally on a staggered timeline, to ensure that early education and childcare providers have time to prepare for the changes and increase staff, and for local authorities to ensure there are enough places available to meet demand.  

Director for Children, Families and Education Elizabeth Hartley said: “The increase in funded hours for working parents means more Wirral families may wish to access childcare, sooner than they planned. 

“We want to anticipate demand and ensure that families can access the extra free childcare if they want to.

“We’re asking families to tell us how they currently use childcare, and if they’re eligible for the additional hours how they might use them.

“We’re also really keen to hear from parents who may currently be on maternity or parental leave, and how they plan to use childcare or access the new entitlement should they qualify.”

Phase one offers 15 hours childcare to working parents of two-year-olds and began in April 2024.  

Phase two will offer 15 hours childcare to working parents of children from nine months of age up to age three from September 2024.  

Phase three will offer 30 hours of childcare to children from nine months of age up to school age where families meet the qualifying criteria* from September 2025.  

Director Elizabeth Hartley said: “I would encourage any parent who this applies to, to take five minutes – which is admittedly hard to spare with a toddler running around – to complete the survey.

“It will help us to review the childcare landscape in Wirral and plan for the future.”  

 All survey responses will help to determine how the use of childcare may change as the new funded hours are rolled out. T

his will then form part of a review of the borough’s current childcare supply and allow plans to be put in place to meet the demand for additional places if needed.  

The survey is open for contributions until Monday, July 8 2,024. 

To take part in the survey, follow this link: haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk/early-years-funding-entitlement-under-2-sTo check your family’s eligibility, visit: http://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.