Funded Early Learning and Childcare for 2-year-olds

If you are a parent of a two-year-old and are in receipt of certain benefits you could qualify for funded Early Learning and Childcare.

Who is eligible?

Entitlement to funded Early Learning and Childcare is not universal for 2-year olds. Eligibility is based on parents who receive one of the following:

  • 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 £19,995
  • Both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income's less than £9,552
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit and your household take-home pay is £796 a month or less

Or a 2 year old who are:

  • looked after (by the Local Authority)
  • under a Kinship Care Order
  • living with a Parent Appointed Guardian (please provide Court Order confirming this)
  • care experienced or has a parent who is care experienced 

How to apply

If you meet the eligibility criteria outlined above, you need to complete the application form link below.

Online application form

If you would like an application form sent to you, please email or telephone 030 33 33 3000.  All completed application forms and additional evidence demonstrating that you are eligible can be emailed to or sent to the address outlined on the form.

Once we have received your completed application form and additional evidence (if applicable) we will write to you within 21 days. If do not hear from the Council within this timescale, you can email us and we will check that your application has been received.

Start dates

The start date will be detailed on the eligibility letter that you will receive from the Council. Start dates are based on the criteria detailed below.

Start dates for free childcare

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

What happens next

Once you have chosen your provider (a list of providers can be found here), you will need to contact the provider to enrol your child. They'll complete all the enrolment forms with you, and you'll need:

  • your confirmation letter from the Council detailing that you are eligible
  • your child's birth certificate
  • proof of address
Page last updated: 11/07/2024
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