There is a new Code of Practice for free entitlement for three- and four-year-olds which came out today, giving all parents the right for the first time to ask their local authority to find them free childcare when they need it.
The statutory guidance sets out how local authorities should guarantee that all parents of three- and four-year-olds have greater flexibility in how they use the free offer of 15 hours a week, spread throughout 38 weeks, when it comes into force in September 2010.
It also confirms that from 2012, parents will also have the right to spread the free entitlement over the whole year, which the Government said would help parents balance childcare with employment or training and enable them to budget.
Providers and local authorities will also be required to consult parents locally about how they can offer free childcare more flexibly.
There were also celebrations as the target of 3,500 Sure Start children's centres was reached, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown opening the Hitherfield Children's Centre in Streatham, south London.
Other measures announced today are:
• A new advisory panel to review food standards in early years settings
• Summary research from the School Food Trust on food standards in nurseries
• A maternity and early years review which will give every expectant parent access to a named Sure Start contact throughout pregnancy and in a child’s early years
• A new online resource, The Gateway to Writing, to offer practical guidance for early years practitioners to support the development of children’s writing, with a particular focus on boys
• Draft core principles for outreach to help children’s centres reach the most disadvantaged families
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