Councillor Vi Dempster writes about the help available for parents with young children.
The assistant city mayor is urging parents in the city to find out if they are entitled to free childcare for their toddlers.
All children from the age of three are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare each week, until they start school. Lots of parents across the city have taken up this offer, using preschools, nurseries and childminders, and we can now make it available to even more.
We have recently been given funding to make free childcare available to certain groups of parents and carers of two year- olds.
If you are in receipt of certain benefits, or have a household income below £16,190 a year, then you may be entitled to claim it and there are lots of good reasons for taking up this offer if you can.
Research has shown that good quality childcare is good for children. It can improve their development in key areas, such as their communication skills, which are vital to their later success. It can also help them to learn to socialise with other children and to make friends, as well as giving them access to exciting places to play and learn new activities.
Many of the skills they learn through attending playschool and nursery will also help them to get ready for starting school and the new challenges this brings. Early years education is vital for children. All of the evidence shows that if children get off to a good start early on they will do better in school and in life.
Childcare is also good for families. It can give parents a bit more time to spend with other children, to start back at work, or perhaps take up a college course. In Leicester we are lucky to have a wide range of good quality childcare across the city.
If you think you may be eligible for free childcare for your two-year-old, contact the city council’s family information service on 0116 454 1100.
You can find details of childcare providers in the family information directory on Leicester City Council’s website at: www.leicester.gov.uk/childcare