“Since going back to nursery after the pandemic, my daughter’s confidence has sky-rocketed.”

Helen, Nico’s mum

Helen Ford is a self-employed hairdresser and her husband is a police officer. They have a four-year-old daughter, Nico, and live in Milton Keynes.

Initially the family qualified for 30 hours of funded childcare, but when the pandemic hit and Helen was forced to suspend her hairdressing business, she was no longer eligible for the full 30 hours.

Helen explained: “When the first lockdown started and all hairdressing was stopped, my business came to an abrupt halt.

“You have to reapply for your 30-hour code every few months and when I came to renew it, I declared that I couldn’t currently work due to the pandemic restrictions. Because I wasn’t working, I was told that we were no longer eligible for 30 hours.

“I felt I was unfairly penalised. I couldn’t work because of the restrictions and had no choice. I couldn’t understand why our situation wasn’t taken into account.

“When restrictions eased and I was able to work again, we requalified for 30 hours but because this was mid-term we had to wait until the following September to be able to access the hours. The system is so complex.

“Since going back to nursery after the pandemic, Nico’s confidence has sky-rocketed. She’s at an age where she needs more than we can provide at home. Socialising with children her own age and adults that aren’t her parents are so important.

“I’m impressed with how she is thriving at nursery. She’s learned her numbers and has really come out of her shell.”

Read more about people’s experiences with the 30 hour policy.

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