REFUGEE toddlers are being denied access to nursery education although they desperately need it, according to a report from two leading charities.
"Children who've had their lives torn apart can benefit from a good nursery setting. All the components - routine, safety and relationships - can really help to re-build a disrupted little life in quite a short space of time", said Tina Hyder, co-author of the report.
There are around 45,000 refugee children in UK schools -80 per cent in London. It is not known how many under-fives there are, only that refugee and asylum-seeking families are more likely than the average population to have small children.
The joint report, from Save the Children and the Refugee Council, argues that if the new White Paper on asylum-seekers, Firmer, Fairer, Faster becomes law, then it will be very difficult for refugee families with children to find out what help is available to them.
Ms Hyder said: "The Government intends to displace refugee families all over the country, and propose a cashless voucher system to replace benefits. This will make it even harder for local authorities to find out where refugee families are and how best to help them."
Refugee Children in the Early Years: issues for policy-makers and providers available from Save the Children, 17 Grove Lane, London, SE5 8RD. Tel: 0171 703 5400.