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EYRG Minutes 28 Sept 2023

Early Years Reference Group Minutes: 28 Sept 2023, 18.00-19.30 via Teams


  • Jo Chan - Early Years Team - SCC (Chair)
  • Karen Greenan - EY Sufficiency & Marketing Officer - SCC
  • Debbie Nash - Education Commissioning Officer - SCC
  • Felicity Pepper - EEAC Entitlement Officer - SCC
  • Kez Dewing - Payments Manager - SCC
  • Will Wilkes - Senior Corporate Accountant - SCC
  • Karen Winfer - Accountancy Support Team Leader-SCC
  • Amanda Richards - EEAC Development Officer
  • Natasha Richards - Wolstanton Kindergarten/ Cheadle Kindergarten
  • Jayne Waterman - Little People Nursery
  • Michelle Lindley - Sandytots
  • Rob Lawford - childminder
  • Sarah McCormick - Little Owl Childcare
  • Tim Hopkins -Humpty Dumpty
  • Sharon Keane - Childminder
  • Philip Siddell - Humpty Dumpty / PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Nadine Key - Oaklands Nursery School
  • Megan McComiskie - Colwich Preschool
  • Jo Di Castiglione - Greenhall Nursery
  • Julie Wetton - Sandytots
  • Helen Townsend - Hey Diddle Diddle


  • Cllr Mark Sutton- Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
  • Helen Gibson - EY Lead
  • Becky Haynes - Codsall Community Nursery
  • PVI reps from South Staffs
  • Jude Russell - Staffordshire Safeguarding Childrens Board (SSCB)
  • Vicki Green - EEAC Sufficiency Data Officer - SCC
  • Sadie Shenton-Jones - Dollymixtures/PVI Rep on Schools Forum
  • Emily Woodward - Three Peaks

Minutes from last meeting

Action re: Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) sharing concerns with Staffordshire Childrens Advice and Support (SCAS) and recording referrals.  Liaison with the Safeguarding team to clarify protocols is taking place; this this will also be raised as an agenda item at next months Ofsted meeting. Work is ongoing to request Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) to attend Safeguarding Forum meetings. Any updates will be shared with group.

Action Jude Russell: Timings of Safeguarding Forum meetings to enable settings to release staff. - action  carried forward.

Action  For All:   Think2 to continue to inform the Early Educatio and Childcare Team of any reasons that come to light why parents may not be taking up the 2 year old offe

Action  Amanda Richards: Health Visitors  - are they signposting parents to our website for eligibility criteria and giving correct info-Amanda has not yet received a response. 

Malachi Family Support-this has been raised with the Commissioner who has liaised with the setting to address the concern.  

Minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

Terms of Reference

Comments and suggestions were welcomed from the group:-

  1. PVI representative on schools forum should also be representative on this group.
  2. Membership-a change over of membership annually could be problematic in that 1 year would be too short a time for members to get to know each other and feel confident to express their views; there are only 4 meetings per year. What would be the mechanism employed to select new members and would there be criteria in place? Would all members change at the same time or would there be a staggered retirement? Perhaps a 3 year tenure would be more appropriate?
  3. Does the focus of the membership need to be less based on geography and more so on what kind of provider i.e. Special Educational Needs (SEND), PVI, Childminder (CM)? 
  4. The group acknowledged it was a big commitment to attend and contribute to the group regularly, particularly in the evening after the working day. The 2 Childminders present expressed their frustration at not being able to attend daytime meetings and having to make time in the evening. (Rob Lawford offered to make contact with a CM network group he is involved in to ask if any other childminder would be willing to come forward).
  5. The group discussed whether it was fair to remove members should they miss 3 consecutive meetings, particularly childminders who may struggle to attend daytime meetings. (Members would be consulted to determine whether they still wish to be part of the group before being removed).

This will be an agenda item at next meeting in November.


Wrap around announcements and key dates

The Department for Education (DfE) have shared plans for an expansion to Wrap around childcare (not activity-based clubs, Holiday schemes or for Early Years) specifically for school age children Reception to year 6. The aim is to increase availability of childcare to school age children to enable and encourage parents to work.

The Local Authority (LA) are awaiting a handbook in October which will also include details of funding. Schools’ guidance will follow. Funding could be spent on, for example, Special Educational Needs (SEND) support, sustainability plans, increasing capacity etc. Childminders will be key.  

Key dates: (No changes to Think2 eligibility criteria)

  • April 2024 - 15 hrs to eligible working parents of 2 years
  • Sept 2024 – 15 hrs to eligible working parents of children from 9 months old
  • Sept 2025 - 30 hrs to eligible working parents of children from 9 months old

Applications will be through HMRC Childcare Choices. Parents will be able to apply from 2/1/24 for their codes for Summer term 2024. Codes may need reconfirmation before they are used and DfE are releasing comms to parents to inform when the best time is to apply. Child will keep same code even if parents dip in and out of eligibility.

There may be circumstances where some families are entitled to Think2 and the working entitlement. Family will have to determine if it is beneficial to claim funding through Think2, as they do not need to reconfirm, and will not lose eligibility if their working circumstances change.

Statutory guidance is expected January 2024.

One provider expressed frustration at the lateness of the release of funding indicative budgets, which would impact providers being able to plan future charges to parents. This would give providers little time to prepare, particularly around stretch offer and availability.

The LA continues to work closely with providers and other stakeholders to help plan sufficiency. 

Funded etitlements - what we know so far

Will Wilkes shared slide deck

One provider expressed disappointment that the funding rates would not enable them to increase wages to their staff to help towards the recruitment and retention crisis in the sector at the moment. They shared that they continue to feel undervalued, and this leads to low sector morale.

Another provider commented that it may mean more providers have to adopt the 1:5 ratio and the possible impact on smaller settings.


Family Hubs

Deb Nash shared slide deck

A couple of providers shared they were excited by the new model and hoped that the response time from the Early Years Forum would improve now that they are being handed through the district Family Hubs.

Sector updates

FROM - Childminders / Nurseries/ Preschools / Schools


FROM - Staffordshire County Council 

Dingley’s promise virtual launch date 19 October at 9:00am. Email invite has already been sent to members of this group. Launch will explain more about the project and other training offers available.




Next Meeting 14 September  - 14:00 to 15:30

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