Eden Training Solutions

Rising to the Challenge: The Crucial Role of Early Years Professionals in the Wake of Childcare Expansion

childcare funding changes


The Department for Education and The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP recently announced a historic expansion in free childcare for working parents, marking a transformative era for early childhood education in England.

Beginning in April 2024, this policy promises 15 hours of free childcare per week for eligible parents of two-year-olds. Applications for the first wave of this rollout are set to open on 2 January 2024. 

Parents are encouraged to register between mid-January and the end of February to take advantage of this opportunity.

This initiative is not just a relief for working families but also an investment in the future. In the fiscal year 2024-25 alone, over £400 million is being invested to significantly uplift local authority hourly rates. 

This funding is crucial to ensure the availability of sufficient childcare places across the country.

Moreover, from 30th November 2023, new childminders joining the profession or those re-registering will receive substantial financial support. 

New registrants with Ofsted are eligible for £600, and those opting for a childminder agency can receive £1,200.

Key AspectDetail
Policy Start DateApril 2024
Application Opening2 January 2024
Recommended Registration PeriodMid-January to End of February 2024
Investment in Fiscal Year 2024-25Over £400 million
Financial Support for Childminders£600 for Ofsted registrants; £1,200 for childminder agencies

While this policy is a significant leap towards supporting working families, it brings to light the pressing demand for Early Years Professionals (EYPs) and the accompanying challenges. 

The expansion aims to give working families a brighter future but also underscores the need for a robust and qualified EYP workforce to meet this growing demand.

To see the government sign-up page and for more information, click here.

The Current State of Early Years Professionals


EYPs are the cornerstone of early childhood development, guiding children through crucial stages of social and academic growth. 

Despite their importance, the sector faces considerable strain due to recruitment and retention difficulties. 

This situation is exacerbated by the upcoming expansion of childcare entitlements, which will likely intensify the demand for qualified EYPs​​.

Eden Training Solutions stands ready to help train Early Years Professionals , ensuring the country meets the demand by  aiding the learner on their journey to an exciting career in early years and nursery education. 

Assessing the Impact of New Childcare Policies

Eligibility and Demand Projections

Under the new policy, a significant portion of young children will become eligible for expanded childcare services. By 2028, it’s estimated that approximately 285,000 one-year-olds and 323,000 two-year-olds will qualify for this entitlement​​.

Changes in Childcare Usage

Parental response to this policy is anticipated to reshape ECEC usage patterns. Currently, ECEC hours for one and two-year-olds in working families are set to increase substantially. The expected rise in ECEC usage is 46% for one-year-olds and 33% for two-year-olds compared to 2023 levels​​.

Projected Increase in ECEC Usage

Age GroupCurrent ECEC Hours (2023)Projected ECEC Hours (2028)% Increase
One Year Olds12 Hours/Week17.5 Hours/Week46%
Two Year Olds15 Hours/Week20 Hours/Week33%

The Staffing Equation

teacher in early years nursery education

Required Number of EYPs

Considering the projected increases in childcare hours, we face a substantial need for additional EYPs. Between 24,851 and 27,583 new EYPs will be needed by 2028 to meet this demand, representing a significant increase in the workforce catering to children aged 0-2 years​​.

Estimated Additional EYPs Required by 2028

Required Workforce to Accommodate Increased Hours Across Various Scenarios and Its Comparison with the Existing Early Years Workforce Size

ScenarioCurrent RatiosRelaxed Ratios
Total FTE Workforce Needed% Increase Compared to 2022 EY WorkforceTotal FTE Workforce Needed% Increase Compared to 2022 EY Workforce
Most Likely27,5838%24,8517%

Table Notes:

  • The percentage increase compared to the 2022 Early Years (EY) workforce is based on an estimate of 334,400 staff delivering early years provision in 2022 (DfE, 2022).
  • Under the most plausible scenario, between 24,851 and 27,583 Early Years Professionals (EYPs) will be needed by 2028 to deliver the expected increase in formal childcare hours following the introduction of the new entitlement. This represents 7-8% of the current total workforce but a much larger proportion (34-38%) of the current 0-2 year old workforce, which the IFS estimated to be 73,000 in 2023 (Drayton et al, 2023).
  • Workforce requirements could be substantially larger, as the perfect allocation of additional hours to staff is unlikely.

Qualifications and Staffing Trends

The early years sector is currently facing a challenge with declining staff qualifications, especially in Private, Voluntary, and Independent (PVI) providers. 

Sector Challenges and Opportunities

This trend of diminishing numbers of staff with graduate or level 3 qualifications is a concern for maintaining the quality of care and education. To counter this, Eden Training Solutions offers specialised Early Years Specialist Apprenticeship Training. 

Our curriculum is designed to stretch and challenge learners, leading to positive outcomes for children and providing insightful development of the learners’ knowledge and skills, which are essential for excellent progression opportunities.

Addressing Workforce Shortages

The Early Years Professional (EYP) workforce has experienced a 3% reduction since 2019, influenced by factors like low pay and limited career advancement opportunities. 

Eden Training Solutions recognises the importance of supporting and expanding the EYP workforce. Our apprenticeship programs, including the Early Years Educator (Level 3) and Early Years Practitioner (Level 2) qualifications, are tailored to equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge. 

At Eden, we focus on engaging teaching, learning, and assessment activities, aiming to inspire learners and prepare them for the challenges of the profession.

Conclusion: A Path Forward

As England experiences the expansion of childcare entitlements, it’s vital to address the need for qualified and dedicated EYPs. The success of this policy depends on effective strategies for recruitment, retention, professional development, and enhancing job satisfaction. 

Eden Training Solutions plays a pivotal role in this journey, offering comprehensive training and qualifications to empower the early years workforce. 

Our commitment to developing skilled professionals is crucial for the long-term sustainability of the childcare sector and for ensuring that children in their formative years receive the best possible care and education. 

As we move forward, it is essential to recognise and support the indispensable role of EYPs in shaping the early years of children’s lives, with Eden Training Solutions at the forefront of this endeavour.

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