Parents are being urged to take advantage of additional free childcare places in Lynn after a £2.7 million investment programme was announced.
Almost 50 new places have been created for two-year-olds in the town under a scheme backed by Norfolk County Council and the government.
Jill Warnock, childcare commissioner for the County Council, said the investment meant there was now a surplus of more than 140 funded places in the Lynn area.
Children are entitled to a free place, which equates to 15 hours a week, if their parents are on benefits or earn less than £16,000 per year, or if they are disabled or have recently left care.
She said current take-up was around 50 per cent, adding: “We really need to increase it this month as we have a new government target that comes in this month.
“We’d like to encourage people to take up the places.”
However, she is optimistic that more parents will now take up places as the new term gets underway.
The authority has invested £1 million in the project, with the remainder coming from the Department for Education.
One of the institutions offering more free places this term is the Mr Bee’s nursery in North Lynn, which now has 21 additional spaces following building works completed in July.
Director Marion Mayhew said: “Parents are over the moon with our new facilities and our rooms are much brighter and area. We’ve also got windows between the rooms so that children can see what each other are doing, supporting their transition as they get older.
“We know that the improvements have supported staff morale and children’s well-being and parents and children are both benefiting from the extra spaces that are available.”
James Joyce, chairman of the county council’s children’s services committee, said: “We know that supporting children’s learning from the start of their lives gives them the best chance of achieving their potential.
“Attending a nursery, pre-school or childminder is fun for children and also helps them to socialise and develop their early communication, literacy and numeracy skills, getting them ready for school.
“It also frees up parents’ time to support them to work, train, look after other children, or have a much needed break from the demands of parenting.
“By investing in extra places, we’ve been able to encourage new businesses into the county, create jobs in the childcare sector and boost the local economy.”