Sheffield parents urged to apply for 'life changing' free childcare hours as deadline approaches

Faith Nicholson, aged 29, from Hillsborough, with husband Peter and son Alfred, three
Faith Nicholson, aged 29, from Hillsborough, with husband Peter and son Alfred, three
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Parents in Sheffield believe the new 30 hours free childcare scheme will be 'life changing' for them.

Parents currently receive 15 hours of free childcare per week, but the Government will soon double this allowance for some three and four-year-olds.

Families are being urged to apply before the deadline of August 31 to access the additional hours for the September term.

Restaurant manager Faith Nicholson, aged 29, from Hillsborough, said the additional hours will be life changing for her and her three-year-old son, Alfred, because she'll be able to cut back her working hours.

She said: "It will be life changing. At the moment I work 45 to 50 hours a week as a restaurant manager to pay for my son’s three days at nursery.

"Working such long hours means that is hard to find the time to spend time with my son.

"Thirty free hours of childcare means that I will be able to significantly cut back on my working hours and am able to spend some quality time with my family.”

Stefan Cubitt, from Norton, dad to Dotty, aged three, and Betty, aged five, said: “The introduction of 30 hours free childcare will be huge for us.

"We are a working family, I work full-time and my wife works four days per week. We are constantly trying to juggle working and caring for our girls.

“The new 30 hours of childcare will help us financially by bringing the costs of our childcare down significantly during term time.

"We might even have a bit more money to spend on doing things together as a family with the money we saved.

“We have three different places that we send the kids for childcare, a childminder, nursery and preschool.

"Once we got our code we gave this to each of them and they have done the rest. I would urge any working parents to apply and make sure they are getting help with their childcare costs.”

From September 2017, if parents work at least 16 hours a week, they could get up to 30 hours of free childcare per week.

To access the additional hours – for the term beginning this September – they must apply before the end of August.

Parents can still apply after this deadline, but their children will start at a later date.

The free childcare can be taken in playgroups and pre-schools, nursery schools, nursery classes in primary schools, or with childminders.

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “Faith and Stefan are great examples of the benefits free childcare can provide.

“Not only does it support children’s development, but it also gives parents more time for themselves, reducing stress and enabling them to work or work more hours.

“Sheffield has many fantastic childcare places and we would encourage anyone who may be eligible to give their child the best start in life by registering before August 31.”