Free childcare scheme opened to two year olds in East Sussex

Hundreds of two year olds in East Sussex will soon have the opportunity to socialise and learn new things thanks to additional funding for free childcare.

From September this year 1,100 two year olds across the county will be entitled to take up a free Early Learning Place, offering 15 hours of childcare a week.

From September 2014, funding will be made available for a further 1,100 places for two year olds in East Sussex.

Currently all parents of three and four year olds can claim free childcare from pre-schools, playgroups, nurseries, independent schools, registered childminders, children’s centres or maintained nursery classes registered with Ofsted.

Early Learning Places for two year olds will only be available in early years settings rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. It is the local authority’s firm view that the highest quality provision at this early stage is vital for children’s continued success in their education.

Councillor Sylvia Tidy, Lead Member for Children and Families, said: “The additional provision for two year olds will provide excellent opportunities for them to interact with a wide range of children and thus develop strong social skills, which will support their transition through the different phases of education.

“It will also provide valuable opportunities for parents and carers to gain access to training and guidance on this important stage of children’s development.”

To apply for a free Early Learning Place complete a form online or pick up a leaflet/application form at your local children’s centre.

Those eligible will be sent a list of childcare providers.

Further information

Notes to editor

Parents can claim 15 hours free childcare or early education a week if they receive one or more of the following:
• Income Support
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
• Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit Child Tax Credit, provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) less than £16,191

Foster carers are automatically eligible for 15 hours free childcare for the two year old they foster.

Childcare providers must offer a minimum of three hours of free childcare five times a week or five hours three times a week.

Children who turned two between January 1 and March 31 this year can already apply for a free childcare.
Children who turn two between April1 and August 31 can claim free childcare from September this year.
Children who turn two between September 1 and December 31 can claim free childcare from January, 2014.

All childcare settings will be closely monitored by the local authority’s Early Years team to ensure that standards consistently meet the required criteria of good and outstanding settings over time. This monitoring is carried out at more frequent intervals than Ofsted inspections and provides the local authority with an in depth knowledge of the quality of provision for young children.