Childcare in North East Lincolnshire gets £1.7m lifeline
THE Government has announced £1.7 million of local investment to improve childcare facilities and double the number of childcare places for the most disadvantaged children.
The Department For Education (DfE) has allocated £1,242,085 to North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) to pay for ten hours a week of early education to two-year-olds.
A further £487,609 will also be invested in the area to help build, extend or improve nurseries in the area.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Good quality childcare gives children a head start even before they walk through the school gates for the first time.
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"No child should miss out on this just because of the circumstances of their birth."
The childcare funding has been in place since 2009 to parents who are in receipt of one of five benefits and who tick two boxes on a list of criteria – the same as for free school meals.
There were previously 270 places – worth about £2,000 a year – available in North East Lincolnshire, equivalent to 10 per cent of families, but they were hugely oversubscribed, which meant a special panel would have to pick the children who most needed help.
This funding will double the number of places so that 20 per cent of families have access to the funding – and further funding is in place to fund childcare for 40 per cent from 2014.
Wendy Shelbourn, head of integrated family services for NELC, said that a steering group has already been established to develop an implementation plan for the additional places from September 2013.
Sharon Jarvis, senior deputy manager at Central Children's Centre on the East Marsh, one of the most deprived areas of the country, said: "I have taught children who could have really benefited from this but their parents can't afford it. There are children who do not have the same skills as others when they come to us at three-years-old and exposure to their peers can be a great help.
"They don't just come here to play – there are many social skills that they learn here that are essential for them in later life."
The £487,609 of capital funding will be available for childcare providers – including nurseries, seasonal playgroups and child-minders – to apply for and NELC will consult them on what it could be used for in 2013.
The Government's Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss urged all local authorities to pass on the funding to the frontline as soon as possible, "so that providers are able to retain and recruit the top-quality staff that our youngsters deserve".
The Government said research in other countries showed that "early learning" for two-year-olds had tangible benefits for their development.
If parents have any queries about nursery funding, call NELC's Family Service on 0800 1830317.