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Funded education for 2 year olds

What is it and could my two year old be eligible?

Funded early education for two-year-olds is available to eligible children from the term following their second birthday. Your family could receive up to 15  hours of funded childcare per week across 38 weeks of the year, or as 570 hours over more weeks of the year.

If the family claims any one of the following, your two year could be eligible:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax and NI contributions, and not including benefits 
  • Child Tax Credit OR Working Tax Credit and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax (but not both)
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Two year olds could also be eligible if they:

  • attract Disability Living Allowance (DLA) *
  • are looked after by their local authority *
  • have left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order *
  • have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC) *

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’) *
  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as 'section 4') *

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have any of the following:

  • leave to remain with 'no recourse to public funds' on family or private life grounds *
  • support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan *
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’) *

* Documentation will be required as proof where an application is made against these additional criteria. Copies of the documentation can be posted or emailed to our team.

Please note: If your circumstances change your funded hours will not be taken away.

When can I apply and when will my child be eligible?

Applications can be made from the term your child turns two years old and funding will start from the following term. Child turns two between:

  • 1 January - 31 March, you can apply from this period. Funded places can then start in the summer term (from 1 April)
  • 1 April - 31 August, you can apply from this period. Funded places can then start in the autumn term (from 1 September)
  • 1 September - 31 December, you can apply from this period. Funded places can then start in the spring term (from 1 January)

How to apply

You can apply online by creating your own Citizen Portal account:

Apply online

It takes just a few minutes and allows you to instantly check eligibility, track your application and contact our team, if necessary. You can create your account with a valid email address and your National Insurance (or NASS) number.

You can also visit a Staffordshire Children's Centre or a main Library where staff will be able to assist with your application. Please ensure you take your National Insurance (or NASS) number or required documentation with you (as above *) . 

How to find Childcare

Funded places should be taken at a good or outstanding Ofsted rated settings. Find local childcare by visiting our Staffordshire Connects website

Further information 

  • FAQs - on two year funding, such as how it could be taken and what you can expect
  • Contact our team for enquiries or help with applications
  • Family Hubs - where families can get virtual advice and guidance and connect with other families

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