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30 Hours Free Childcare Study

Published: July 2017

What effect will the 30 Hours Free Childcare policy have on childcare provision when it is rolled out nationally?


Our evaluation of the extended free childcare hours pilot will provide invaluable learning for when the policy is rolled out nationally in September 2017. 

report about the early implementation of the 30 Hours Free Childcare policy was published in Summer 2017.

The Department for Education has commissioned this evaluation to make sure that the extended free childcare hours policy supports parents and works for providers.


The key findings from the early implementation report are:

  • A high proportion of providers were willing and able to offer the extended hours places and there was no evidence that financial implications were a substantial barrier to the delivery of the extended hours.
  • Parents were keen to take up the extended hours.
  • Take-up of the extended hours was associated with increases in the use of formal childcare; longer work hours for mothers and fathers; and some indication of higher work retention for mothers.
  • There were additional perceived benefits for families in terms of enhanced work opportunities, direct financial support and broader wellbeing. 

Another report, on the early roll out of 30 Hours Free Childcare, will be published in early Autumn 2017. 


As part of this evaluation, we are conducting two studies:

  • The first study took place in eight local authorities participating in the early implementation of 30 Hours Free Childcare policy. We conducted a survey of participating childcare providers and another of parents.
  • The second study is taking place in four local authorities, where all childcare providers have been able to offer the funded hours since April 2017. We are speaking to providers that are offering the funded hours and those who have decided not to.

This work is part of a wider evaluation delivered by our partners Frontier Economics and researchers from the University of East London.

The other elements of the evaluation include telephone interviews with the participating local authorities, case studies with providers and parents, and analysis of administrative data.

Read the report