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Funded early learning and childcare for 2 year olds

Your 2 year old may qualify for free early learning and childcare.

Two year olds can have free early learning and childcare if their parent or carer receives any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and your income's less than £16,105
  • Both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income's less than £6,420
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit with a monthly income threshold that does not exceed £610

Or they are:

  • looked after
  • under a Kinship Care Order
  • living with a Parent Appointed Guardian

The funded early learning and childcare your child is entitled to is free but you may wish to purchase additional hours and should this directly with the chosen provider. Some voluntary and private providers may also charge a registration fee and ask you to pay for snacks.

You can choose the days of the week and the number of hours depending on availability at your chosen provider. Sessions are no shorter than 2.5 hours and no longer than 8 hours each day.

Customer Notice - Increasing ELC hours

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) is changing in Scotland and the number of hours children are entitled to will rise by 2020/21 in order to offer more flexibility for families.

Eligible 2 year olds and all children aged 3 and 4 are currently entitled to 600 hours of funded ELC per year. The funded entitlement will increase over the next few years and almost double to 1140 hours. Increased  ELC hour availability will be rolled out across the region in phases and will be completed by 2020/21.

How to apply

Email or call 01387 722166.

You'll be sent a form to complete and return along with a copy of your benefits letter or Court Order.

We'll write to you within 21 days of receiving your completed application. If your child is eligible then you'll receive a list of early learning and childcare providers, including council, voluntary and private providers.

You need to visit your chosen provider to enrol your child. They'll complete all the enrolment forms with you but you'll need to take:

  • your confirmation letter
  • your child's birth certificate
  • proof of address

Hours and start dates

The confirmation letter you are sent will let you know the number of hours your child can have.

The start dates depend on the child's date of birth:

Date of child's 2nd birthday

Start date for funded hours

1 March to 31 August

August (autumn term) occurring in that year

1 September to 31 December

January (spring term) following their birthday

1 January to last day of February

March/April (summer term) following their birthday

Choosing a provider

There's a lot to consider when choosing a provider such as location and facilities. You could visit providers in your area or speak to family and friends to find out more about what's on offer.

The Care Inspectorate inspects all providers to make sure they meet national standards. They publish inspection reports so you can find out what quality of care you can expect:

Search childcare provider inspection reports

You can also visit the Scottish Family Information Service website to find out more about services near you.

Further support

You may qualify for support with childcare costs in certain circumstances:

Page last updated: 03/12/2018
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