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Number of two-year-olds taking funded places drops

By Rachel Lawler
 
baby boy sand bucket
The number of two-year-old children taking up a funded childcare place has dropped, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Education.
 
Funded places for two-year-olds are designed to support children from disadvantaged families with 15 hours of funded childcare.
 
But the most recent figures show that the percentage of eligible children taking up the offer of a place has decreased from 72% in January 2018 down to 68% in January 2019.
 
In the same period, the overall number of children accessing the offer dropped by 6,200 to 148,000.
 
Universal Credit
The government says that this was partially caused by a change in the way eligibility is determined – the criteria was changed in April 2018 to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit.
 
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “It’s extremely concerning to see any drop in the number of two-year-olds accessing a funded place.
 
“Sadly this has been on the cards for some time because, as we have repeatedly warned ministers, underfunding has made it increasingly difficult for providers to deliver places for all children cost effectively. However, the problem is even greater for those trying to offer two-year-old funded places because, according to recent Ceeda research, the gap between average funding rates and providers costs is now 37%.
 
“The children entitled to these places are some of those who would benefit most from early education so any government should be concerned about this. The fact that this drop is happening under a government forever talking up the importance of social mobility is especially frustrating. Ministers now need to reflect on where their stubbornness on early years funding is leaving our most vulnerable children and look to increase funding levels as a matter of urgency.”
 
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