Eligible parents in Watford could be entitled to 15 hours free child care per week with a childminder, pre-school or nursery setting.
Hertfordshire County Council is encouraging parents to check their eligibility online. There is still time to get something in place for the New Year.
Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Free early education has a number of benefits for children and provides a great foundation for learning, and it can have a positive effect on academic achievement later in a child’s school life.
“We are encouraging all parents of two-year-olds in Watford to visit our website and check if they are eligible for the nationwide government scheme. Parents who are not eligible for free education for their two-year-olds can take their free entitlement from the term after their child’s third birthday.”
Agata Tarchala, 33, from Watford, has a four-year-old son Jacob and found that as a single mum the offer really helped her to work more and save money on childcare. Agata said: “When I found out about it I was happy because I wanted to start work, it meant that I could save money on childcare. I work in Costa Coffee and do 24 hours a week, when he was two I did 10 hours so really benefited from the 15 free hours. By going to a nursery it means I can work extra hours and I know he is learning.”
Hertfordshire County Council carried out a survey which showed that most parents who already use the offer do so to help their child’s future education and learning. The Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education project has shown that children who have a high quality early years’ experience have more chance of achieving better exam results and ultimately earning higher wages in the future.
Sadia Rana, 36, and her three-year-old son Amaan, from Watford, found the offer benefited the whole family as well as Amaan’s learning and development. Sadia said: “It has been very good for us as a family to have those free hours. I have two more children, a 17-year-old and an 11-year-old. I am a housewife and the main language spoken in the home is Urdu. Those hours have improved his learning and English speaking a lot.”
Nearly two-thirds of Hertfordshire respondents said that they send their child to a free early education setting to allow them to go back to work, and more than 60 per cent parents use the offer to help boost their child’s confidence and to help their child make friends.
Eligibility for families entitled to free education for two-year-olds is based on criteria including income support, income-related employment and working tax credit. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible, please visit Hertfordshire County Council’s website.