£245,696 boost for children in Calderdale

Little girl with mom read book in bed

Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers in Calderdale are set for a £245,696 cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Children from low income families have often fallen behind more well off classmates before they even start school.​

But from April 2015, the Early Years Pupil Premium – which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – ​will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a fair start.

Alisdair Calder McGregor prospective parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley said: “By investing nearly 1/4 Million in Calderdale to help the most disadvantaged three and four-year-olds, Liberal Democrats are ensuring that children are getting the best possible start in life.

“All the evidence shows that helping children as early as possible is key to making sure they do not fall behind. That is why this announcement is fantastic news for children.

“This is all part of creating a fairer society and opportunity for everyone.”

Nurseries and schools will be free to choose how to spend the money, which is part of a £50m Government pot.

It comes on top of Lib Dem-led changes in Government to help families, which include shared parental leave, tax free childcare, Free School Meals, and a pupil premium for school age children.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws added: “Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, whatever their background.

“Liberal Democrats in government have already extended free early years education for all children in Calderdale.

“Now this cash boost will mean extra support for those children who need it most.”

What next for Early Years and Children’s centers in Calderdale ?

Calderdale Council’s Labour Cabinet has agreed to commission Children’s Centres on the basis of a report from the “Early Years Commission” but local Liberal Democrats involved in this are expressing a number of serious concerns about this and are likely to ask for a more detailed examination of the proposals and the thinking behind them by the Scrutiny Panel.

 In the Cabinet meeting, Cllr Janet Battye (Leader of the Liberal Democrat group) raised two concerns:

First, the lack of vision, and secondly the lack of clear information about costs and funding.

“These proposals should be based on a Vision to guide the shape of these important services. We had just heard the Cabinet agree a Vision for Adult Social Care services, Early Years service also need a vision but the Lead Member saw this coming next and referred to a future meeting of the working group. We expected this to be the other way round, vision first and then the practical application following on.

“We are very supportive of Children’s Centres. Professionally I was involved in opening three of them (not in Calderdale) and Liberal Democrat-run Councils have not closed any and we didn’t when we ran Calderdale. They are important in provide universal support services to all families with young children in the area they cover. But their daycare services are only available to a relatively few children and we wanted to see this as a more inclusive service to more children, so we support the targeted fund but there is little information about how this will work.

“But then, equally worrying, there is very little financial information about the funding available for Children’s Centres. The Lead Member referred to the need for commercial confidentiality about this. We do need to satisfy ourselves that we understand how these proposals are being funded and how sustainable this is. We have repeatedly said this in meetings of the Commission but not received enough information about this.

“There needs to be more thought given to these proposals, in our view, before they are put into place.”

Extra funding for free early years education

The Government has announced additional funding to provide free early years education to two-year olds across England, bringing the number of families eligible in Calderdale up to a total of 1,400 for 2014 up from from 524 in 2013.

childrens-centre-photo

Across the UK that’s 130,000 two-year olds from the poorest homes will be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week with a nursery or childminder.

The Government is investing more than £500 million into childcare this year and £100 million through local authorities to create new places to ensure those children eligible right now can benefit from these places.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“From today, if you’re a parent on a low income with a two year old in the family your child will qualify for 15 hours a week of free early years’ education.

“These funded places are focused on helping the families that need them most.”

Next year the Government will be investing £760m to help an additional 130,000 two-year-olds in families on less than £16,190 a year who receive working tax credits.

Commenting Cllr Pauline Nash said:

“This is a welcome announcement for families in Calderdale as early education helps promote a child’s physical, emotional and social development. This extra funding is one example of how we are trying to build a fairer society in which everyone has a chance to get on in life.