Parents of toddlers turning two this April are being encouraged by the Deputy Prime Minister to check if they can get free childcare.
From this September, 15 hours of free childcare a week are being made available to around 130,000 two-year-olds from lower income backgrounds across England. The first of these eligible toddlers will have their second birthdays this month.
Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said:
High quality childcare can make a huge difference to children at the start of their lives. By getting things right from the off, they are much more likely to be ready when they start school.
If your son or daughter is turning two this April or later, they may be eligible for 15 hours free childcare a week. So make sure you check with your local nursery or local authority to find out if you’re entitled.
Parents can find out if their child is eligible by contacting either their local nursery provider or their local authority. These places will initially be targeted on children from families receiving an out-of-work benefit and those who are looked after by their local authority.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are known to be more at risk of poor development, with evidence showing that differences emerge early on in life. High quality early education can make a difference to a child’s progress and the additional government money will help to make sure children from poorer families do not lose out.
Local authorities are being encouraged to raise awareness of the offer of free childcare for two year olds so that as many families as possible take up the offer.
The government has also announced capital funding allocations to councils totalling £100 million, to help build, extend or improve nurseries and early education facilities.
The free childcare entitlement for two-year-olds was rolled out early in 10 pilot areas last September. Currently, more than 850,000 three and four year olds nationally access up to 15 hours of free early education every week.
Notes to editors
- A breakdown of the number of children that it is estimated will be eligible for free places in each local authority, together with information on funding being provided in 2013-14, is available from the Department for Education.
- Children from families receiving one of the following meet the criteria for free childcare from September:
- Income Support
- Income-based Job Seekers’ Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- if you have an annual income of less than £16,190 and get Child Tax Credit, provided you are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit.
- The 10 pilot areas which trialled the free two-year-old entitlement are: Blackpool, Cornwall, Greenwich, Kent, Lambeth, Lancashire, Newcastle, Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rotherham.