A change in national criteria means more 2-year-olds in Cambridgeshire will be eligible for free childcare at the start of the new school year.
From this month, the eligibility also includes:
- Children who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance
- Children who have a statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan
- Children who are working with Early Support and have complex needs requiring on-going specialist support.
Cambridgeshire County Council already includes families in receipt of Working Tax Credit - who previously were not entitled - as long as household income is still less than Â£16,190, as well as a range of families in receipt of other income related benefits.
Many families receiving Working Tax Credit are likely to be paying for childcare already, so it can save them money or allow them to work more hours.
Nationally, this will mean that 40 per cent of two-year-olds will be eligible for free childcare, which will support the development - and ultimately school readiness and achievement - of these children. In Cambridgeshire, the figure is around 26%, or 2,000 children at any one time..
This free childcare will also help ease financial pressures for parents, give parents time to look for work, take up training or work more hours.
Children who are eligible can receive free childcare from the start of the school term after their second birthday. The hours can be taken as 15 hours a week, every week, during school term time. In some childcare settings the free hours can be spread more evenly throughout the year - fewer hours a week over more weeks, up to a maximum of 570 hours a year.