Jan 04, 2013

Free Child Places Could Be Lost

Every parent knows how much a reduction in their childcare costs can help – but there are still almost 40 free spaces for three and four-year-olds going unclaimed at eight Old Station Nursery sites across the UK.

Under Government regulations, parents are entitled to claim up to 15 hours of free childcare per week for children in that age range during school term times.  The group is now calling on parents to register before 17th January – the day the official number of children registered has to be handed in – so they can have the full 15 hour entitlement.  After the 17th deadline, the entitlement is reduced.

The Oxfordshire settings have 22 spare spaces, with the Filkins nursery needing to fill two gaps, Faringdon nursery looking to fill four spots and Benson and Henley-on-Thames having eight spaces each.

The Innsworth nursery in Gloucestershire has two spaces available, Newark needs to fill five spots and the Wragby Road and Elm House settings in Lincoln have four and five spaces respectively.

Sarah Steel, Managing Director at The Old Station Nursery group, said: “All three and four-year-olds are eligible for a free space for the term which will begin after their third birthday, but many of our settings have several spaces reserved for this which are going unused.

“It would be a real shame if parents miss out on this vital opportunity, not just because it saves them money.  A nursery environment is a really good way to help your child prepare for school, learn to interact with other children and develop important life skills.

“If a child joins after the headcount day, it is possible to claim a partially funded place via the local council website, but it is always easier if children are already registered prior to the 17th as the child will receive full Early Years Educational Entitlement attendance.”

The session times vary across each site but are typically  8am to 1pm or 1pm to 6pm,  with the exception of Benson which operates sessions between 8.30am and 11.30am and from 12.15pm to 3.15pm or six-hour sessions from 9am to 3pm.

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