Childcare provision is changing across the UK and the world. Childcare in 2024 is set to evolve procedurally and digitally, with more families than ever before accessing subsidised childcare and taking a more active role in their children’s education. Here we discuss the changes you can expect, their advantages as well as some of their challenges.
Currently, all parents of 3-4 year olds are offered 15 hours a week childcare support with registered childcare providers. Eligible working parents of children aged 3-4 can also qualify for an additional 15 hours childcare support. And some parents of 2 year olds can also qualify for 15 hours. These hours are spread over 38 weeks of the year, during term time. Your hours can be used per week for 38 weeks of the year There are similar childcare support schemes in Scotland and Wales.
In 2024, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds can access 15 hours childcare support, and eligible working parents of children aged 9 months to 3, can qualify for 15 hours too. A staggered approach to the changes is being used, starting from April, with final changes being made in September, giving you time as a childcare provider to prepare your setting and staff to adapt to the changes.
Similar changes are even being made across the pond in Australia, It is expected there will be an increase in the maximum subsidy rate, removing the annual cap on the amount of CCS that can be paid for eligible families. This will be a relief for those who have struggled to pay for childcare, in particular low income families and families with children under social care.
In Ireland, an extra €60.9 million has been allocated for 2024 to increase the payment rate for a Qualified Child in most weekly welfare payments. In development is also a payment to children in International Protection. This payment will help reduce the level of poverty experienced by this group of children.For families in employment, from January 2024 the Working Family Payment (WFP) threshold will be increased by €54 per week, and a one-off lump sum of €400 will be paid to all families in receipt of the WFP. If you are a childcare provider in Ireland, it’s good to keep in the know about changes to finances, and how this might impact childcare and the welfare of families you work with.
With more children (and younger children) qualifying for government funded childcare, you will need a robust policy and procedure in place to ensure all funding criteria is being met, and that your systems are up to date and streamlining your financial processes accurately.
It’s vital for professionals to join up their work and give children holistic, joined-up care. This is why the UK government is prioritising bringing a more integrated approach to child care through the use of family hubs.
A family hub will be able to maximise support to families, enabling health organisations and council-owned facilities like libraries to coordinate and communicate. These hubs can be particularly helpful to SEND children, bringing together health visitors, SENCOs and speech and language therapists, to work more closely with childcare providers.
It is more important than ever to leverage digital technology to ensure that your setting is safe, compliant and delivering excellent care. In 2024 you can expect to see even more uptake of childcare software solutions and digital learning for preschoolers.
Framework has been set to create a more joined-up effect within social care, health and education, ensuring that all professionals have transparent, accurate and accessible information on children and families. It’s wise for your childcare setting to be up to date on technology, systems and processes so that you can align and integrate with broader joined-up ways of working.
In particular, your setting could benefit from:
- - Communication platforms. Web based communications can make it easier for you to show parents what’s happening at the childcare setting, give real-time updates and receive updates from parents in return. You can also make it easier to liaise with other professionals involved with a child, safeguard them more effectively and ensure data is accurately transmitted, avoiding human error.
- - Digital record keeping. The days of paper based files are behind us, and technology is evolving to ensure your data is secure, accurate and online. Health records, attendance, financial status and payments can all be monitored and recorded digitally, ensuring the very best provision is made for a child. Look at some of the digital solutions we offer at Cheqdin for more information.
- - Safety and Security tech. Biometrics and smart locks are the future - you can keep children in your facility safe with the latest advances in security technology.
- - Virtual tours. For families who cannot physically tour your setting, you can now offer accurate virtual tours which can be handy for fostering inclusivity.
- - Digital learning experiences for children. Children now can learn using AI, virtual reality, smart apps and IoT, all of which helps them to learn more effectively, at their own pace and using their own learning styles and interests. The future of education is heavily leaning towards offering more personalised experiences.
It’s important to mention that going digital helps to foster inclusivity and allows families to also take a proactive approach in their children’s education and development. Having the right digital solutions in place to keep children thriving, secure and supported means that disadvantaged children can have the very best chance at having an education, and that all children no matter their background can learn and grow in a way that fits with them.
The push for more families to access subsidised childcare is also promising for pulling families out of poverty and enabling parents, in particular mothers, to return to work, overall benefitting the family, their finances and quality of life.
It’s important as a provider that you ensure all families are given access to the revised information about their rights and entitlements, and that your software and policies are updated to reflect the changes. Taking a proactive approach to this means you can be up and running in time for the changes to be enforced.
With any change, whether it be procedural or digital, requires child care providers to stay proactive. Some challenges providers could face in 2024 include:
- - Management of influx of new referrals meeting revised criteria
- - Ability to stay up to date with the administrative procedures associated with the government changes and adhering to the staggered deadlines.
- - Ensuring compliance with eligibility for subsidised fundings.
- - Educating families on their rights and eligibility to ensure all children are receiving what they are entitled to.
At Cheqdin, we provide childcare providers the software needed to stay on top of childcare changes in 2024. Check out our product offerings here. Get in touch if you have any questions about how our software will benefit your nursery or childcare facility.