ESFA ups childcare cash for young parents as demand falls

Care to Learn allocations rise by £20 per week but data indicates falling demand for subsidies

Care to Learn allocations rise by £20 per week but data indicates falling demand for subsidies

26 Apr 2023, 17:16

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Bursaries to cover childcare costs for young parents so they can stay in education have been boosted, as data shows the numbers of claimants are plummeting.

Care to Learn cash is paid to parents aged up to 20 who continue with their studies by helping fund childcare costs.

In an update this week, the Education and Skills Funding Agency confirmed the maximum amount has increased from £160 per child per week to £180, or an increase from £175 per week to £195 per week in London.

Official data up to 2021/22 indicated that take-up of the subsidies had fallen dramatically in eight years, with demand now a fifth of 2013/14 levels.

Figures for 2021/22 showed there were 1,052 claimants with allocations totalling £4.6 million. That compares to the 5,674 claiming in 2013/14, where total payments exceeded £24.5 million.

The government previously told FE Week that a fall in teenage pregnancy rates had reduced demand.

But concerns were raised in 2020 by the National Union of Students that the complexities around claiming the cash were also to blame, prompting the union to call for a simplification of the system and extension of eligibility to include apprentices, who are excluded as they earn a salary.

Funding rules dictate that the young parent, the education institution they attend and their childcare provider must all be eligible in order for the cash to be paid.

Learners must also submit a fresh application every year, even if their programme runs for more than one year.

According to the rules, parents must be under the age of 20 on the first day of their study programme, be the main carer and be in receipt of Child Benefit to be eligible.

Their study programme must have some direct public funding, and can include GCSEs, A-levels, BTECs, short programmes, further education programmes in higher education institutions, and foundation HE courses at FE providers.

HE courses at HE providers, apprenticeships, and higher technical qualifications are not in scope.

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