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Thinktank warns of 30-hours impact on places for two-year-olds

By Rachel Lawler
baby and parent
The Education Policy Institute (EPI) thinktank has warned that the 30-hours offer may have an impact on the availability of childcare places for disadvantaged two-year-olds in a new research paper.
The EPI says that there may be a “possible trade-off” between “the take-up of the entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds and take-up of the 30-hours entitlement for three- and four-year-olds”.
The paper concludes: “Recent policy changes to the early years sector may be unintentionally creating a disparity in deciding who is prioritised for early years provision.”
Concerning trend
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “It’s deeply concerning to see further evidence of a trade-off between the funded childcare available to disadvantaged two-year olds and take-up of the 30 hours entitlement for three- and four- year olds. 
"Unfortunately this is an inevitable consequence of a situation where, according to sector experts Ceeda, more than two in every five (44%) childcare providers have seen their funding fall in in real-terms in the last five years. This has meant that funded places for two-year-olds – which are more expensive to run – have become too costly for providers already struggling to stay open and reliant on parents who are able to afford ‘voluntary’ charges to make up the funding shortfall. 
“Let’s not forget that ministers were warned that freezing funding levels and introducing 30 hours would mean disadvantaged families struggle to access childcare. It’s now abundantly clear that this concern was well-placed. If government really is serious about social mobility it should stop actively pursuing policies which leave disadvantaged children behind and start ensuring that early education is properly funded.” 
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