Free places for toddlers

HELPING HAND Hundreds of toddlers in Kirklees will be able to get looked after for free from September.
HELPING HAND Hundreds of toddlers in Kirklees will be able to get looked after for free from September.

Families with children who become two this month could get free childcare for their little ones from September.

More than 1,000 children in Kirklees will benefit from £800,000 of funding aimed at lower-income families.

Under the scheme, eligible families will be able to get 15 hours of free childcare at a local provider each week.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “High quality childcare can make a huge difference to children at the start of their lives.

“By getting things right from the off, they are much more likely to be ready when they start school.”

The first children to benefit from the scheme have already started at nursery, as those who turned two in the first three months of the year were able to take their places after the Easter holidays.

Eligible children who have turned two since the start of this month, or who will turn two before August 31, will be able to take their nursery places from September.

Those who turn two in the last four months of the year will then take their free nursery places in January.

Mr Clegg said: “If your son or daughter is turning two this month or later, they may be eligible for 15 hours free childcare a week, so make sure you check with your local nursery or local authority to find out if you’re entitled.”

It is estimated that 1,118 children in Kirklees will get the free childcare places, with around 13,600 children eligible across Yorkshire and Humber, and 130,000 nationally.

Families with a two-year-old will qualify for one of the free places if they receive:

l Income support;

l Income-based jobseekers’ allowance;

l Income-related employment support allowance;

l Support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;

l The guarantee element of State Pension Credit;

l Child Tax Credit, if they aren’t entitled to Working Tax Credit and have a yearly income of no more than £16,190.

They will then be sent a voucher that they can redeem at an approved nursery.

Families can check the criteria and apply for the free childcare online at www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/education-learning/child/parents/freechildcare.shtml.

Alternatively, they can pick up an information leaflet from their local library, children’s centre, childcare provider, health visitor or information centre, or call 01484 414887.