Childcare should be funded from nine months… not three years!

Sonny Jim, Katy Pearson
Forest school days: A muddy Sonny Jim

It’s something that has absolutely baffled me for a while.

And it transpires I’m not the only one.

More than 140,000 people – me included – have signed a petition demanding that the Government’s 15 hours of free childcare starts when a child is nine months – rather than when they are three years old.

Click here to sign the petition

I have tried and tried to understand why this isn’t already the case – but it defies logic.

Think about it.

Statutory maternity pay ends typically when your child is nine months.

Then, if you return to work, obviously SOMEONE is going to have to look after your baby.

And yet there is no financial help with this – until your child is three.

That’s more than two years, where you’re looking at paying hundreds of pounds in childcare (FYI typical childcare costs are about £1,000 a month) so you can leave your child with someone else while you work.

Is it any wonder that many parents are actually forced into giving up work – simply because the cost of childcare outstrips their salary?

Then suddenly, when a child hits three you get 15 hours of childcare funded by the government. And working parents who earn at least the national minimum or living wage for 16 hours a week but less than £100,000 each may also qualify for an extra 15 hours a week on top.

Which is great. But it comes two years after you’ve either had to give up work – or go part-time in some cases, just to cover the cost of childcare.

It’s ridiculous.

And there are no winners in this current set-up. Just lots of stressed out, financially penalised, mums. Is it any wonder only six per cent of the most senior jobs in Britain’s boardrooms are held by women? Who said we could have it all?

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