The county has been chosen to pilot the Early Years Premium which is being rolled out to schools, nurseries and childminders across the country from next year for every three and four-year-old from a low income family.
The £300 per child is aimed at preventing them falling behind before they have even started school. The new funding is based on the same principle as the pupil premium, which sees schools given extra funding for every child from a poor background they teach. The Government says the Early Years Premium will result in £5.4m funding for the Yorkshire region impacting on the early years education of more than 18,800 children.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “It is vital that we intervene at the earliest possible stage and do all we can to help young children develop and learn I’m so proud that we’ve been able to deliver this Early Years Pupil Premium so that toddlers from the poorest families get the support they need, which will pay dividends later in life.
“In my view, this will be one of the great legacies of this government, helping create a fairer society which benefits families up and down the country.”
The Liberal Democrats have previously announced plans to more than triple the amount that is paid per child to £1,000 during the next parliament. This is a pledge by the party rather than the coalition Government.
The Early Years Premium aims to help close the gap between children from low-income families and those from wealthier backgrounds, who are 19 months ahead by the time they start formal school.
North Yorkshire is one of six areas nationally which has been chosen to pilot the scheme ahead of its nationwide launch in April.
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We know the first few years of a child’s life can be make or break in terms of how well they go on to do at school and beyond.
“We want to see this money being put to the best use to ensure that all children, whatever their background, are getting the best start in life.”
Nurseries will have the freedom to decide how to use the funding to help three and four-year-olds learn and develop.
However, the Department for Education has asked charity 4Children to launch a call for evidence on the Early Years Pupil Premium in November asking providers to identify and share good practice around meeting the needs of disadvantaged children.