Cornwall Council has been allocated more than £6m by the Government to provide free childcare for two years olds.

All three and four year-olds in England are currently entitled to 15 hours of free early education each week for 38 weeks of the year. While the Government have previously provided funding for a small number of free places for two years, they are now extending this to 40 per cent of all eligible two year olds.

All councils have been asked to provide the additional places by September 2014 – however Cornwall will be implementing this early from January 2014. Cornwall is currently funding over 1,200 eligible two year olds and in 2014/15 this will increase to over 2,300 children.

Welcoming news of the funding Andrew Wallis, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is good news for families in Cornwall. The funding will help us improve the attainment and life chances of some of our most disadvantaged children and support working parents.”

Under the new scheme two-year-olds who meet any one of the following criteria will be eligible:

• If they meet the eligibility criteria also used for free school meals

•If families are receiving Working Tax Credits or Universal Credit and have annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year

•If they have a current statement of special educational needs (or in future an education, health and care plan)

•If the 2two-year-old attracts Disability Living Allowance

• If the 2-year-old has left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order

• Cornwall’s local criteria where children will be automatically eligible regardless of income: • if they are looked after by their local authority

• Children supported through social work (child protection, child in care or child in need)

• families within the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Community

If there are any funds remaining when the Government’s criteria has been met, the Council will allocate additional free places based on additional local criteria. This will be monitored monthly by the Early Years Panel: • children who have English as an additional language • a child whose main carer has left care • a child whose main carer is a teenage parent • a child whose family is supported by the Together for Families programme.

For more information, advice and support please contact Cornwall’s Family Information Service on free-phone 0800 587 8191, email or visit the website