Free childcare places under £3m scheme for Wakefield families

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Hundreds of low-income families with two-year-old children are set to benefit from free childcare places in a £3m scheme being rolled out across Wakefield district.

A £3m government grant will pay for the best rated nursery schools across the district to provide places for more than 2,800 two-year-olds over the next two years.

From September, nursery schools will be offering free pre-school education to two-year-olds who are looked after by Wakefield Council or eligible for free school meals.

An estimated 850 two-year-olds will be offered 15 hours a week of free childcare as part of the scheme.

When the Government broadens its criteria next September, the offer will be open to an estimated 2,000 two-year-olds.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee is expected to agree to fund private and voluntary childcare providers which have ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted ratings.

They would receive £4.85 per hour for each two-year-old they take on as part of the scheme.

Lisa Oldroyd, manager of the New Life Christian Centre pre-school, on George Street, Wakefield, said: “We’re seeing more children coming through
with speech and language delay.

“The earlier we can get these children in, the earlier we can intervene. I wouldn’t expect the funding to cover all that we need to take on more two-year-olds. But my job is to meet the needs of a child and I think it’s a very good idea.”

The cabinet report states letters had been sent to parents of eligible children.

The report adds: “This will enable parents to have a real choice about their childcare options while supporting them into employment and out of poverty.”

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