The Department for Education today launched a consultation on changes to how Care to Learn will continue to support teenage parents in education and unpaid training in England.
Currently parents under 20 who meet the scheme requirements can claim up to £160 a week (£175 a week in London) for childcare and related transport costs under the programme.
The Department said it was committed to supporting teenage parents to stay in education and training, and to the continuation of the Care to Learn programme.
The scheme will continue in its current form for all parents in England who are under 20 when they start a course in the academic year 2011/12 until they complete that course. Any change would be introduced from September 2012.
The amount of money available for Care to Learn will rise across the Spending Review period, from £38.6 million in 2011-12 to £44.7 million in 2014-15. However, while the number of teenage parents is declining, more are likely to remain in education or training as the participation age is raised, to 17 in 2013 and to 18 in 2015.
The nine-week consultation starting today outlines four possible options:
- Moving to a discretionary fund
- Linking support to income
- Changing the weekly rates paid
- Changing the age criteria. This is the Department’s preferred option.
- It would mean that those aged 18 and under at the start of their course would still be covered by the scheme. Those aged 19 (and over) would be able to apply for childcare support through the discretionary adult learner support arrangements funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). This option would bring eligibility for childcare support in line with other forms of financial support for young people and adults.
Notes to editors
The consultation document can be found in the consultation section of the DfE website. It runs for nine weeks, until 28 October 2011.
Under Care to Learn, childcare payments are made direct to the childcare provider.
In the academic year 2009-10 the programme cost around £37 million and provided childcare support to 7,933 young parents. The scheme currently supports around 6,300 young parents.
It was introduced as a pilot in 2002 making childcare funding available to those aged between 16 and 18 and extended to under-16s in 2004 and to 19-year-olds in April 2006. It is not income-assessed.