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Essex County Council has awarded a seven-year contract to Virgin Care, in partnership with Barnardo’s, to run children’s centres and child health services.

Early years settings across the country have been getting into the festive spirit - 'Ho, ho, ho.'

Staffordshire-based regional chain Footsteps Day Nurseries has acquired Lollipops Day Nursery in Stafford, bringing the company’s nurseries to 10 settings in total.

Homeless children in Ireland will receieve 25 hours of free childcare a week, under new Government plans.

Plans to reform school funding to end ‘a historical postcode lottery’ will see a redistribution of money with schools in big cities like Manchester, and London boroughs losing out in favour of schools in rural areas and suburbs.

A nursery in Widnes has expanded with the opening of a second setting after receiving a £75,000 grant from the Merseyside Jobs and Growth Fund (MJGF), which has more than £2m of funding available still for established businesses from the Liverpool City Region looking to expand.

The Government’s plans to extend the free childcare offer for all three- and four-year-olds in England from 15 to 30 hours a week for children in working families from September 2017 are ‘only likely to increase parental employment slightly’, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Nurseries across the country are being hit by cuts to funding and increased costs, leading many to close ahead of the introduction of the 30 free hours.

New Government figures reveal 156 children’s centres closed in 2015, almost double the number which shut the previous year.

A new study suggests the amount of time mothers spend with their children has a ‘noticeable influence’ on their early development.