Wiltshire Council is encouraging parents with a child who will be two years old on or before the 31 December 2020 to apply for 15 hours free childcare.
The childcare, known as Better 2gether Funding, is for parents who are on Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, those that have an income of less than £16,190 before tax and are on tax credits or £15,400 if they are on Universal Credit, and those with a child who have an Education, Health and Care Plan are also eligible.
The funding is for up to 15 hours childcare a week (over 38 weeks a year), and can be used at local nurseries, pre-schools and childminders. All childcare settings are COVID-19 secure and have a range of measures in place to ensure everyone can learn safely. It may also be possible to stretch the free hours over 50 weeks of the year. Parents do not have to take up the full 15 hours straight away, they can just claim for a couple of sessions a week.
Research has shown that good quality early education is beneficial for children and can:
- Improve children’s development, for example, their language skills
- Help them learn to socialise with other children and make friends
- Help them begin to get ready for school
- Give them access to exciting places to play and new activities including messy play that they might not have access to at home
Childcare is also good for parents and carers. It can:
- Give them more time to spend with their other children
- Enable them to go back to work or take up a college course
- Give them an opportunity to do the shopping and housework
- Give them some ‘Me Time’ to relax or go to an exercise class, which could be particularly valuable during lockdown
Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said:
The number of parents applying for free Better 2gether childcare funding has fallen this year. This may be due to the current COVID-19 pandemic which has led to more parents being at home.
Whether parents are at home or not, we would still encourage them to apply for the 15 hours a week free childcare as research has shown that that good quality early education is great for children. It can also be good for parents, giving them a break and the time to do the things they need to do. As the new restrictions have come into force attending a setting gives a young child the chance to explore and play in a COVID-19 secure social environment
All childcare is provided by registered professionals who are fully trained in looking after children, have been police checked, have paediatric first aid qualifications and who currently hold either a good or outstanding Ofsted grading.
You may be eligible for funding if:
- You get Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after-tax, not including benefit payments.
- You claim tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
- You claim DLA for your two-year-old or have an eligible aged child with an EHCP
- You foster a two-year-old
- Your two-year-old was adopted from local authority care or they have left care under a special guardianship order or child arrangements order
Parents can visit the Wiltshire Council website for more details of who is eligible for funding and can apply online at Wiltshire.gov.uk – search for Early Years and Childcare or pick up a form from your health visitor or local children’s centre.
To find eligible childcare providers in the area, please use our online childcare directory. (You will need to select ‘two-year-old funding’ at the bottom of the search page).