Families on low incomes in Derbyshire are being urged not to miss out on free childcare for their two-year-olds.
A scheme offering up to 15 hours of free childcare a week for two-year-olds is being rolled out to hard-pressed working families across the county. Previously, it was only open to people on certain benefits.
Now, Derbyshire families with a household income of less than £16,190 a year and receiving Working Tax Credits can take advantage of the offer which could add up to thousands of pounds of free childcare a year.
Parents can choose to use their funding with a childminder, pre-school or nursery.
Coun Kevin Gillott, Derbyshire’s cabinet member for children and young people, said he was pleased even more children would now benefit.
He said: “One of our key priorities is to help Derbyshire families achieve their full potential.
“Families can get a lot out of childcare. Not only does the child benefit from playing with other children and learning through play, it can free up time for busy families.
“It can also help people get back into work and the extension to the scheme to families in work but on low pay will be a real benefit to those struggling to pay childcare bills.”
To qualify for the funding, which comes from the Government, families need to have a household income of less than £16,190 a year and receive Working Tax Credit, or be on certain benefits such as income support or job seekers allowance, or have adopted or fostered a child.
Children of teenage parents and children receiving Disability Living Allowance also qualify.
The new funding for up to 15 hours a week during term time or fewer if used all year round is available in the term following a child’s second birthday.
Coun Gillott added: “This funding is good news for thousands of families in Derbyshire. Things are tough at the moment and I am glad we can help families who might be struggling.
“Childcare is expensive and if we can help keep more money in the pocket of hard-pressed families it will help them through difficult times.
“Three-year-olds already get free childcare, but by extending it to younger children we are offering families the opportunity to benefit even earlier.”
Parents and carers can find out if they are eligible for free childcare for their two-year-old by going online to www.derbyshire.gov.uk/freechildcare or by calling 01629 539316/7 during office hours.