Skip to main content

Early Education Funding for 2 Year Olds

Some 2 year old children in England are eligible for 15 hours of Early Education Funding.

Am I eligible?

Click here to find out if you are eligible for funded childcare for your 2 year old.  If you meet at least one of the criteria listed below you should be entitled to 15 hours early education funding a week, for 38 weeks of the year, for your two year old child:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (annual net income of up to £15,400)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income-based)
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit calculated on an annual income not over £16,190
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Children of Zambrano Carers: Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private/family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’).


  • Children who receive Disability Living Allowance
  • Children Looked After by the Local Authority
  • Children who have left Local Authority care through special guardianship (fostered), or through adoption or residence order
  • Children who have a current Statement of Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan

How do I apply and can I get assistance?

Apply through the online eligibility checker.  When you apply online you get an instant response.  If eligible you will receive a code to take to your childcare provider.

If you prefer to apply in person or need help finding a childcare place visit either: Family Information Service Welcome Area, above the Central Library in the Dolphin Centre, Poole Tel: 01202 261970, or the Children's Information Service Welcome Area, Town Hall, St Stephen's Road, Bournemouth Tel: 01202 456222.  Information for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole can be provided at either centre.

Where and when can my child start?

An eligible child can access 15hrs per week, for 38 weeks of the year, of Early Education from the funding period following their second birthday.

Child's Birthday When Funding Can Start 
1 January - 31 March Summer Term (1 April)
1 April - 31 August Autumn Term (1 September)
1 September - 31 December Spring Term (1 January)

You can access a place at a day nursery, pre-school, independent nursery school, school nursery or childminder that is approved to provide early education funding for 2 year olds.  A full list of all registered providers can be obtained here.

What is my child's entitlement and how does it work?

You are entitled to 15 hours Early Education funding per week across 38 weeks per year. If you need childcare in the school holidays you could stretch your entitlement (less hours per week, but over more than 38 weeks per year).

If you can't use the full 15 hours per week with one provider, you can share the entitlement with a second provider.

Many childcare providers will have specific times of day where they accept Government funded hours, so do check in advance. Funded hours can be used between 6.00am and 8.00pm (subject to availability at your chosen provider - the provider does not have to be open during these hours).

What additional charges might I be asked to pay?

You have to pay for any hours your child attends over and above the number of funded hours per week.

Additional services such as meals, snacks, drinks and trips, and extra activities such as music and dance etc are not covered by early education funding, and the childcare provider may ask you to pay for these.

At the beginning of each new term, the childcare provider should tell you about any charges that may be incurred, enabling you to make an informed choice as to whether the childcare provider is right for you and your child.

If your child attends a childcare provider outside of your Local Authority area the funding will be paid by the Local Authority where your child attends. 

What if I am claiming childcare through Working Tax Credits?

Early Education funding does not affect benefits received. However, the funding does mean that your childcare costs will be lower, so if you are claiming the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, you should only claim for the childcare fees you are paying to prevent an overpayment.

HMRC0345 300 3900