NINETY toddlers from the most disadvantaged families in Cheshire West are to be offered free early education.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has given its backing to the scheme, which will start in September and continue to March 2011.
The project follows pilot programmes trialled by 32 local authorities which have involved the provision of early education and child care to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds and their families.
The initiative will cover about one in six of disadvantaged two-year-olds in the borough, which covers Chester, Ellesmere Port & Neston and the former Vale Royal area.
The guidelines will focus on economically deprived families and on aspects such as children with speech and language needs and families with three or more children under five, teenage and lone parents and parents with health problems or disabilities.
The scheme will provide at least 10 hours of child care a week.
Families will also be helped to find support for issues such as skills training and benefits advice.
“The project will help the authority to improve the educational attainment of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds in the borough with good quality early education,” said Cllr Arthur Harada, (Con, Overleigh) executive member for children’s services.
“Research has shown that early access to good quality education can have marked benefits for children’s outcomes.”
Outreach officers working from children’s centres across the borough have already identified many of the families.
The council points out that as the children become three they will automatically become eligible to free ‘early years’ education entitlement.
Places will normally only be provided in child care settings rated “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted.