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30 Hours Free Childcare Study

Published: August 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. 


The latest report about the early rollout of the policy in four local authorities from April 2017 was published in August 2017.

report about the early implementation of the 30 Hours Free Childcare policy in eight local authorities from September 2016 was published in July 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.


Key findings from both reports are as follows: 

  • 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. 
  • The key facilitators for implementation were a well-resourced LA early years team and wider support within the LA, as well as a strong and positive relationship between the LA and providers.


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 on early implementation from September 2016

Read the report on the early rollout from April 2017