Local two-year-olds are set to get a better start in life after a £130,000 government grant was awarded to Sutton and Merton Councils.
The funding will enable the councils to develop new places with local childminders so that two-year-olds in the St Helier area can receive extra educational support and 15 hours of free childcare a week.
This is one of only 15 places across the country chosen to benefit from the pilot project to improve the skills of childcare professionals and is expected to contribute to the availability of over 300 funded high quality places across both boroughs for two year olds by 2013.
The scheme aims to build capacity in the childminding sector and address economic issues by helping to make it more affordable for parents on lower incomes to go back to work.
It will help children get a step ahead in their pre-school learning and stands to provide them with better chances in their future as those benefiting from high quality learning opportunities from an early age go on to do better in school.
Cllr Kirsty Jerome, Executive Member for Education and Schools at Sutton Council, said: “Winning this funding is really is good news for people in St Helier. The initiative is a great way to improve services for young children in the area and will help them get a head start in early education.
“By working in partnership with Merton council we have been able to secure money which will help to make a real difference to many families.”
Merton Council cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Maxi Martin said: “This is wonderful news for some of our youngest residents and their families. Our top priority is to help the more vulnerable in our borough. I hope that working with Sutton on this pilot, we can create an exemplar template for other areas to follow in the future, giving more young people a good start in life and enabling parents to regain their earning power.”
The councils will now be recruiting and providing professional training for childminders in the St Helier area.
Childminders can offer vulnerable children with complex needs a valuable home based learning environment and a stable key person to aid their development. Additionally, many are well placed to support parents, have links back into the community where both live, providing holistic family support to both the parents and child.
All childminders and families receiving the entitlement will be linked to their local children’s centre where they can also receive additional support.
All three and four-year-olds in England are already entitled to 15 hours of free nursery provision every week.
Merton and Sutton Councils anticipate that from 2011 until 2013, the number of funded places for two-year-olds to be cared for by a trained childminder will increase. The government has proposed that there will be a national roll-out of funded places for the most vulnerable two-year-olds in the country from 2013.