Could your two-year-old child be eligible for some high-quality, free childcare?

boy reading with an e reader Published Tuesday, 18th November 2014

Parents with toddlers across Worcestershire could be in line for some free childcare for their two year old.

Eligible families could receive up to 15 hours free childcare per week.  To be eligible for a free place in an early education setting such as a nursery or registered childminder, children must be living in a household that receives one or more of the benefits.

National eligibility criteria for the free places is where the parent or guardian of the child receives:

- Income support or income-based job seekers' allowance
- Income-related employment or support allowance
- Child tax credit, if annual income is less than £16,190 and they don't receive working tax credit
- The guarantee element of state pension credit
- Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
- or if the child is in care – looked after by the county council.

Eligible children can get up to 570 free hours of childcare per year, up to a maximum of 15 hours a week, over at least 38 weeks per year.

The move is aimed at helping children from less-well-off backgrounds get a good start in life. Early results are looking good.

In addition, Worcestershire County Council is also funding places for children with additional needs, traveller children, and children of serving armed forces personnel.

Worcestershire County Council has supported a small but growing number of funded places for two-year-olds and positive outcomes have been reported for both parents and children.

Now the government has brought in the scheme nationally, which means local authorities must ensure there are places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

Cllr Liz Eyre, cabinet member for Children and families said: "We have been offering two year old nursery funded places for several years now and results have been very encouraging.

"We will be working closely with our local childminders, and nurseries to provide high-quality places for children, which is key to helping them get a good start in life.

"Toddlers gain so much from spending time together and they learn without even knowing it – they just know they're having fun."

Children develop quickly in the early years with 80 per cent of brain development by the age of three. Nurseries are able to offer children different experiences which can have a major impact on future life chances and early education gives children a broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future process through school and life.

There are also benefits for the parents with the opportunity to retrain, gain part time employment or just have some 'me' time.

Video interview with parents who have taken up the funding are available on the website and give further details about the benefits and advantages. Visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/2yearfunding