Huge take up of free childcare funding for two-year-olds
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We are celebrating excellent results for the number of families signed up to a free childcare scheme for two-year-olds.
The 800th child in South Gloucestershire has just been approved for this autumn term through the government funded scheme which offers free childcare for two-year-olds from families on low incomes.
We have now reached a 95 per cent participation rate for the Department for Educations target of eligible children in the council area (843 children).The government’s criteria for take-up of this funding is 40 per cent and the national average is currently 55 per cent.
These results follow an innovative yet cost effective approach to promoting the initiative in South Gloucestershire and places us amongst the best performing authorities in the country. We have been so successful the DFE and other local authorities have now adopted some of our methods.
Our approach in South Gloucestershire included working with health visitors carrying out their two-year-old child development checks to sign-up families, and also collaborating with officers from the council’s democratic services department who organised a team to go out and visit families at their homes.
Other methods included specially targeted marketing campaigns, utilising social media channels, and an online portal where families are able to apply around the clock using their computer, tablet or smartphone. Applying for the funding online in this way also means that families are automatically registered with Children’s Centres, who can then directly access their information to organise childcare.
Cllr Ian Blair, Chair of the Children and Young People Committee, said: “We are delighted that so many families have successfully applied for funding here in South Gloucestershire since this scheme was introduced. These results are great, but we still have funding available and would like to do even better and get closer to 100 per cent.“If you have a two-year-old and your household income is less than £16,190 then you may also be entitled, so please get in touch using the contact details below.”
Childcare and Education Minister Sam Gyimah said: “The early years count and I’m delighted to see that nearly all eligible two year olds in South Gloucestershire are benefitting from free childcare.“We want to make good quality childcare more affordable and accessible for parents to help them give their children the best possible start in life.”
The government funded scheme was introduced to improve the outcomes of children from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing free childcare for this age group. The free childcare is made available in a nursery or pre-school setting or with a childminder.
Further information is available on our website at www.southglos.gov.uk/childcare or alternatively you can find out more by calling 01454 868008.
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