Free childcare offer for 2 year olds

playFamily and Childcare Trust has released details from recent research which shows that thousands of two year olds in England may be missing out in the free entitlement to childcare.

The programme to give 40 per cent of England’s most deprived children high quality early education by September 2014 has not met its target. While 74 per cent of these children have been placed in nurseries and with childminders, there are big differences between local authorities in the proportions of children receiving free early education.

In London just 51 per cent of eligible children had been placed by November 2013. There are 37 local authorities where less than 60 per cent of eligible two-year-olds had been placed by November 2014, of which 25 were in London.

Anand Shukla, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: “This flagship policy is vital to the long-term outcomes of England’s most disadvantaged two-year-olds and to close the attainment gap between more advantaged and disadvantaged children.

“We know this is a challenging ask but local authorities must deliver on this policy. They need to make sure that local children’s centres are fully utilised and funded to provide the necessary places for the two-year-olds who are missing out. They also need to take advantage of the time-limited offer of grants and other support available to them from central government to expand provision.”

Much work to be done to ensure that parents can access childcare for two year olds, and have a reasonable choice giving quality childcare.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – working with the Early Years Agenda

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