Lincolnshire parents are being urged to check their two-year-old’s eligibility for a new government entitlement to 15 hours of free early education.
The service, which already helps 116,000 children nationally, has been extended to 40% of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds.
Of the 260,000 children across the country who will benefit from the additional support, 3,300 places will become available in Lincolnshire.
This builds on the entitlement of 15 free hours a week already available to all three- and four-year-olds.
The service is offered to low-income families and those who receive certain benefits, such as income support.
Households must have a gross income of less than £16,190.
Children are likely to qualify if they meet any of the following criteria:
- Income Support
- Income-based Job Seekers’ Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit and have an annual income not exceeding £16,190
- Child is looked after by the local authority
- Child has a statement of special educational needs/ an education, health and care plan or who attract Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Child has left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order
Parents and carers should enquire about their child’s eligibility by contacting Lincolnshire County Council.
Applications can be completed online, or people can request paper application forms from the Family Information Service on Freephone 0800 195 1635.
The government now meets up to 70% of childcare costs for low- and middle-income families through tax credits.
It is also introducing tax-free childcare from autumn 2015, which will see all eligible families receive up to £2,000 towards each child’s childcare costs.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney is supporting the move. He said: “Evidence suggests that children from less advantaged backgrounds currently start primary school up to 19 months behind their peers. In 21st century Britain this is unacceptable.
“This will help provide 3,300 children in Lincolnshire with the very best start in life so that they can go on to fulfil their potential.”