The Ministry of Education has approved an increase in funding for students in the Early Childhood Assistance Programme to help support parents and children negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the ministry, the amount has been increased from $450 to $500 for supplementary funding and from $275 to $305 for basic funding. The allocations are determined by a financial means test.

The programme, announced by the ministry on Wednesday, provides financial assistance to parents/guardians of Caymanian children who turn 3 years old before 1 Sept. and who meet the means-testing requirements. The funds cover or aid payment of enrolment fees for Early Childhood Education Centres.

According to a Government Information Service spokesperson, the ministry has allocated a total of $704,140 for the Early Childhood Assistance Programme for 2020, but funds from the 2021 budget will become available “should the need arise”.

“The intention is to provide young children with the opportunity to receive a strong educational foundation,” Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said in a press release. “In addition, these children will be able to consistently pursue their Early Childhood Education without undue financial stress on their parents.

“Parents will also have access to a wider variety of ECCEs (Early Childhood Care and Education), thereon increasing the likelihood of placing their child in an environment that best meets their child’s needs. Early childhood education is integral to the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.”

For more information, contact the ECCE Unit at the Ministry of Education by email at [email protected]. The ECAP application forms are accessible from www.education.gov.ky or by collecting the forms from the Government Administration Building, the Department of Education Services and all Early Childhood Education Centres.

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