A campaign to encourage parents to take up free childcare and early learning places in Liverpool has proved a huge success.
Liverpool has around 3,000 free places for under 2s as part of a national programme targeted at low-income families.
In June 2015 nearly a third (1,100) had not been taken up, but following a huge drive over the last year the take up rate now stands at 82 percent.
It means almost 350 additional children have benefited from 15 hours of support per week to help learning and development, which is an 18.5 percent increase on last summer term.
Councillor Nick Small, Assistant Mayor and Cabinet member for education, employment and skills, said: “I am delighted we’ve had such success in driving up take-up rates and it’s a result of a lot of hard work by our staff in finding innovative ways to reach out to families through our Children’s Centres and other council services to encourage them to sign up.
“It is vital that parents who are eligible for free childcare and early learning places use them as the additional help and support from childcare professionals following the early years curriculum can make a big difference.
“This is all about making sure that our children get the very best start in life and are where they need to be in terms of development when they start school.”
The council worked with social enterprise Outreach Solutions to run an intensive, targeted campaign, targeting Clubmoor and Norris Green in the north and Knotty Ash and Yewtree in the east where take up rates were low.
A six-week programme engaged communities and nurtured local champions to become advocates for early learning; and the way a wide range of activities in many different settings – from local shops to children’s centres – were used to get messages across.
More information about free childcare and early learning places can be found at www.ehd.liverpool.gov.uk or parents can contact their nearest Children’s Centre.