Families in Essex are being encouraged to look into the future increase of funded childcare hours for three- and four-year-olds by Essex County Council. From September, families will be able to benefit from an extended entitlement policy which is aimed at supporting eligible working parents with childcare costs or increasing their working hours.

The policy is flexible – not all of the additional hours have to be used and families can make arrangements with their childcare providers based on their individual needs.

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said, “Essex County Council is committed to helping the early years and childcare sector deliver the extended entitlement and supporting the government’s aims to make work pay for Essex families.

“The benefits of an increase in funded childcare hours are clear, not just in terms of what it means for working parents, but also in terms of increased access to early learning opportunities for young children.

“Good quality early learning supports young children to be happy, confident, sociable and curious, can prepare them to start school and can have a positive impact on their long-term development.”

Along with the existing 15 funded hours for three- and four-year-olds, any parents who meet the criteria will be able to receive an extra 15 hours at the start of the school term after their child’s third birthday.

Parents of children who turn three on or before 31st August 2017 can now apply to access their extended entitlement from September 2017.

If any parents have not registered or do not have their eligibility code by the 31st August 2017, they will not be able to access their additional hours until the start of the spring term in January 2018.

Families are also able to claim tax-free childcare alongside extended entitlement hours.

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