Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

More nursery places for disadvantaged two year olds

Friday, 31 May 2013

Hampshire is well underway to meeting the Government's targets for the provision of 15 hours per week free nursery places for disadvantaged two year olds.

By 2014, it is anticipated that around 4,000 additional places will be needed across the county to meet the potential demand from eligible two year olds. Children qualifying for the places include those who are in the care of the Local Authority, as well as those whose parents are on low incomes and those who are unemployed or in receipt of benefits.

The County Council is supporting childcare providers to enable them to create additional places as well as providing training to help them meet the specific needs of children under three years old who will be eligible for the offer.

More than 1,000 two year olds eligible for the free provision have already taken up places and a total of 2,000 new places are expected to be ready for September. More than £1.6 million has been put aside to create the additional places through a targeted programme of capital funding, enabling new schemes to be developed in areas of highest need.

Currently, more than 70% of Hampshire's early years education providers offer places for funded two year olds. In addition, there are childminders in Hampshire who deliver early years education provision. The scheme to offer free childcare provision is part of a national, Government-led initiative to improve outcomes for children. The County Council is launching a leaflet campaign to raise awareness of the offer to families who may be eligible. In the meantime information is also available on the county councils website.

Alternatively parents can contact their local Children's Centre for details or telephone Services for Young Children Information Support Team on 01962 847070 or email childcare@hants.gov.uk.

Cllr Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education, said: "Hampshire County Council is committed to ensuring that children have the best possible start to learning. Evidence shows that good early years education from a young age can help to boost child development and lead to better achievement in school. That is why we are offering families, who might not otherwise be able to access childcare, a chance to get a good start for their children. All two year old places will be offered in provision that is well equipped to meet the need to young children. Parents who take up the places for their children can also access a range of children's centre activities which can help them with parenting, including how to understand and support their child's healthy development, as well as gaining advice about training and employment. We are also supporting childcare providers so they can ensure they have additional places and skills to meet the needs of these young children."

Providers wanting more information about grants to help them develop their provision should visit Services for Young Children.  They will need to meet the criteria and be planning to provide additional places in the priority areas listed.

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