Bolton’s low income families can now apply for free education and childcare places for their two year old children.
Bolton Council is providing the new free places to help support low income families in the borough with their children’s early learning and development.
The initiative follows on from the successful introduction of free early years education for all three and four year olds which started in 1999.
The extension to the scheme, which started in September 2013, provides each eligible child with up to 570 hours of free education and childcare throughout the year.
Each free session lasts between two and a half and 10 hours a day up to a maximum of 15 hours per week. Although parents and guardians can purchase additional hours, if available, from the service provider as required.
The scheme is only available to two year olds from families in receipt of certain state benefits and who have an annual household income below £16,190.
Eligible children can take up their free place from the beginning of the term after their second birthday.
Local Children’s Centres can help families check their eligibility for free places, register their child and get a list of Bolton Council accredited settings which are part of the scheme including playgroups, pre-schools, private day nurseries, local authority nursery classes, independent nursery schools and childminders.
Children in these settings follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for children age two to five to prepare them for primary school.
They are taught personal, social and emotional development, language and communication, physical development, literacy, mathematical development, understanding of the world and expressive arts and design.
Councillor Madeleine Murray, Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Looked After Children ,Safeguarding and Early Years said: “We are delighted to be able to extend the offer for free early years education places to two year olds from low income families. They often miss out on some educational experiences other children benefit from, as their parents cannot afford to put them into childcare. This early access to high quality education and childcare will help improve their communication skills and their ability to socialise, make friends and enrich their lives.”
A factsheet on choosing quality childcare in Bolton is available from local Children’s Centres, although families will have to contact their preferred setting/ childminder directly to check the availability for places.
For more information contact your local Children’s Centre, call Bolton Family Information Service on 01204 332170 to find out where your local centre is or email firstname.lastname@example.org