Access to free childcare

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Join our campaign to secure the 15 extra hours free childcare for fostered children. All other children in England are entitled to this new provision, yet fostered children are currently excluded!

UPDATE 13th December: yesterday we met with the Department for Education who have agreed to review the policy. We will be working with them over the next couple of months as they do so, and we hope to have good news before too long.

Additionally, Lisa Nandy MP has secured an hour long debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 19 December at 4:30pmPlease would you write to your MP asking them to attend the 'Childcare for fostered children' debate. It is worth reminding them of why you are concerned about the issue from your perspective.

Thank you for all your support so far - we're making a difference!

So far in the campaign we have:

  • Had letters to the minister printed in The Times and The Guardian newspapers.
  • Facilitated over 260 emails to nearly 200 MPs from supporters. You can take part below.
  • Secured many parliamentary questions, notably from Lord Beecham, Nisa Nandy MP,  and Tracy Brabin MP.
  • Met with a number of MPs to plan further action in parliament.
  • Had a positive meeting with the Department for Education.
  • Secured a Westminster Hall debate on 19 December.

The initial Government response was unsatisfactory, citing the fostering allowance, tax concessions and benefits for foster carers as reasons for why fostered children should not be entitled to the extra 15 hours of free childcare.

This is incorrect on at least three counts:

1. The fostering allowance does not cover the cost of childcare.

2. The fact that foster carers have a beneficial tax and benefits system is irrelevant when it comes to justifying the discriminatory decision to exclude fostered children from the 15 additional hours.

3. It's not possible to review how the 30 hours free childcare is working for fostering families - it's not working at all because they are not eligible!

This same government line was repeated in a debate in the House of Lords on 29 November

However, in answers to more recent questions, the children's minister Robert Goodwill, has indicated that the Government will be looking again at the policy, and we will be working closely with them in the months to come.

THANK YOU again to everyone who has helped in the campaign so far - it is clear that the pressure we are putting on decision makers on this issue is beginning to have an effect.

Background to the issue

Fostered children aged three and four in England are excluded from the additional 15 hours of free childcare a week that have been made available to parents since September 2017. 

All other children in England are now entitled to up to 30 hours a week of free childcare. This exclusion is discriminatory and inexplicable. It is unfair that the Government’s flagship childcare policy discriminates against fostered children in such a blatant manner.

We know that many fostered children will thrive when surrounded by their peers, not least because they may well have had a difficult start in life, with little socialising with others before coming into care. These early years before school are crucial to their development. Of course not all foster carers will want take up the extra 15 hours, but it should be left to their judgment and that of the social worker as to whether it is appropriate or not.

This Government and the previous Government have encouraged people to foster by saying that fostering can be combined with working outside the home, but foster carers will have to pay for the additional 15 hours out of their own pockets, or enter into difficult negotiations with their fostering service.

Foster carers are already under immense financial pressure, with barely 10 per cent earning the equivalent of the national living wage for a 40-hour week. It is outrageous that they are therefore being expected to subsidise a flagship government policy intended to improve all children’s lives.

For a summary of the issue, please download our briefing

Take action

A number of other organisations have joined our campaign to call upon the Government to reverse this decision. Please join us! Take action by writing to your MP and asking them to raise it with the children’s minister, Robert Goodwill.

The more of us that take part, the more likely it is that this discriminatory policy will be reversed. Simply enter your postcode, fill in your details and amend the email to reflect any personal thoughts or experiences you might have. Then click continue.