1. ITV Report

Childcare benefit: Are you eligible?

Nick Clegg reads to children in Oxfordshire Photo: ITV News Meridian

From this September, 15 hours of free childcare a week will be made available to more than 1,100 two-year-olds across Oxfordshire from lower income backgrounds. The first of these eligible toddlers will have their second birthdays this month.

Parents can find out if their two-year-old is eligible by contacting either their local nursery provider or their local authority. Places will initially be targeted on children from families receiving an out-of-work benefit and those who are looked after by their local authority.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are known to be more at risk of poor development, with evidence showing that differences emerge early on in life. High quality early education can make a difference to a child’s progress and the additional Government money will help to make sure children from poorer families do not lose out.

Currently, more than 850,000 three and four year olds nationally access up to 15 hours of free early education every week – one of several measures the Government is taking to support parents with children in childcare. Last month, the Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister announced that working families will receive up to £1,200 per child to help with the cost of childcare from 2015.