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Busy Bees: Retention and attraction in the burgeoning childcare sector

[ad_1] | Jo Faragher

While extended ‘free’ childcare hours are a welcome boost to many working parents, employers in the childcare sector face an ongoing recruitment crisis and need to plan how best to spread their workforce. Charlotte Hutchings, group chief people officer at the UK’s largest nursery chain Busy Bees, speaks to Jo Faragher about how the business is managing the challenges ahead.

When the government announced it would extend free childcare hours in England to a broader group of children in last year’s budget, this was positively welcomed by working parents, many of whom have had to adjust hours or even give up jobs to juggle their caring responsibilities.

In addition to the 30 hours of free childcare currently enjoyed by 3 to 4-year-olds, from April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds will be eligible for 15 hours. Then, from September 2024, 15 hours also become available for parents of children 9 months and over.

The Department for Education said it would increase funding to nurseries to cover free hours from £204 million last year to £288 million in 2024. Labour MP Stella Creasy claimed that – despite the increase in funding – this would be asking childcare providers to operate at a loss.

As nurseries and other childcare settings gear up for the first extended group to receive the free hours next month, how they will cover the extra hours financially is just one of the challenges they face.

Research from the Early Education and Childcare Coalition in November…

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