Parents of three and four year olds are being encouraged to apply for an additional 15 hours free childcare to help them remain in or take up employment.
From September 2017, working parents of three and four year olds will be eligible for a total of 30 hours free childcare – rather than the current 15 hours which is available to all.
Each parent – or the sole parent in a one parent family – must earn the equivalent to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage as a minimum for the first three months following application, and less than £100,000 per year.
As of Tuesday, 1 August 2017 there had been 2,091 successful applications in County Durham and 1,535 codes from providers to be verified.
Of those that have been checked, 1, 357 codes have been confirmed as eligible. 160 providers have signed up to offer places so far.
The Department for Education is expecting 4,010 children across the county to take up the offer this financial year.
Parents can check their eligibility for the additional 15 hours the term before their child is due to start their funded 15 hours place.
The term children are able to start nursery depends upon when they are born:
Child born between April 1 and August 31: September term intake
Child born between September 1 and December 31: January term intake
Child born between January 1 and March 31: April term intake
Parents can start to check their eligibility for the January intake from September.
Cllr Olywn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people said: “The opportunity for an extra 15 hours of free childcare is great news for working families across Durham and it is good to see so many parents have already applied for the scheme.
“We hope that more families will check their eligibility so that all those who are able to benefit from this do so as soon as possible.”
Eligibility is checked through the Childcare Choices website: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/
Details of providers offering funded places can be found on Families Information Service website www.countydurhamfamilies.info
Childcare providers on the Ofsted Early Years Register, which include childminders, day nurseries, playgroups, pre-schools, nursery schools, schools with nursery classes and out-of-school providers, can offer the extended entitlement in a model of their choosing.