THOUSANDS of South Yorkshire two-year-olds are to benefit from up to 15 hours a week of nursery care under plans announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The Sheffield Hallam MP revealed that 3,660 disadvantaged children in the county - 1,404 in Sheffield, 894 in Doncaster, 705 in Barnsley and 657 in Rotherham - will be eligible for places which become available next September.
Some £16 million of Government money is being made available to the four councils to fund start-up costs for the scheme, plus running costs over the first year.
Further funding will be available to double the number of places in the second year depending upon take-up.
Mr Clegg said: “From 2013, 130,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds across the country will be eligible for 15-hours of free childcare a week with double that number set to benefit the following year.
“We’re letting local authorities know the money they will receive to offer these free places and make a huge difference to hard-pressed families.
“Good quality childcare gives children a head-start even before they walk through the school gates.
“No child should miss out on this just because of the circumstances of their birth.”
The funding is being provided at a flat rate per child per hour, adjusted for an area’s average costs.
The Government is also calling on councils to raise awareness so that as many families as possible take up the offer.
Future funding to councils will be allocated based upon the number of participating children in each area.