Today around 130,000 two-year-olds across England become eligible to access an early learning place, to improve the attainment and life chances of some of our most disadvantaged children. This will support working parents, benefitting the labour market and economic growth locally.
Early education helps promote a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social development. Access to early education at age 2 is unequal between disadvantaged and more affluent families, and this programme will help close unfair gaps.
Thousands of two-year-olds are already benefitting from funded places, as local authorities have been building up to today’s duty being introduced. That number will only increase as we officially launch the programme.
The Deputy Prime Minister has, today, also announced the criteria to double eligibility from 2014, to offer funded places to around 260,000 two-year-olds.
From September 2014, a two-year-old will be eligible if they meet any one of the following criteria:
- They meet the eligibility criteria used for free school meals;
- Their families receive Working Tax credits and have annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year;
- They have a current statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care plan;
- They attract Disability Living Allowance;
- They are looked after by the LA;
- They have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order.
The Department for Education will confirm the benefits and earning criteria for families on Universal Credit at a later date.