You may be eligible to 570 hours of funded early education or childcare per year for your 2 year old if you meet the criteria. That's 15 hours per week over 38 weeks.

Check if your child is eligible and apply

2 year olds from families receiving benefits

Your child might be eligible if you receive one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit and earn £16,190 or less per year
  • Child Tax Credit and earn £16,190 or less per year
  • Universal Credit, if you and your partner have a combined income from work of £15,400 or less a year, after tax 
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

You might also be eligible if you cannot claim benefits because of your immigration status, or lack of immigration status. Find more information on 2 year funding eligibility on GOV.UK.


Use this form to confirm your eligibility and apply if you receive one of the qualifying benefits.

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2 year olds from families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

2 year olds from families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) may be eligible for funding.

To be eligible, you must have a:

  • UK ancestry visa
  • temporary protection status under Section 12 of the Nationality and Borders Act; and
  • pre-settled status with no qualifying right to reside

Subject to the maximum income thresholds as follows:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children
  • a maximum capital threshold of £16,000 in all areas

Contact Early Education Funding to apply.

Other eligible 2 year olds

Your child might be eligible if they:

  • are looked after by the local council
  • have left care through a special guardianship order (SGO), adoption or residency order
  • receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan

Contact Early Education Funding to apply.

Dates your child is eligible for funding

You can get funded childcare the term after your child's second birthday. This means it would start either in January, April or September. 

Find the date you can apply in this table:

Eligibility dates
Must be 2 years old by Date child is eligible for funding from
31 December 1 January (spring term)
31 March 1 April (summer term)
31 August 1 September (autumn term)

Your child will continue to be eligible for 15 hours of funded childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

If you work, you could be eligible for up to 30 hours of funded childcare the term after they turn 3.

Find a childcare provider

Search our Family Information Directory for a registered or approved childcare provider. You can filter your search by those offering funded early education and childcare. 

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Your chosen funded childcare must:

Childcare providers include childminders, pre-schools, playgroups and nurseries.

Speak to your chosen childcare provider to book your child's place. We advise you to contact them the term before you want to use the funding to book your child's place in good time. 

Using your funded childcare

Your child can get up to 15 hours funded childcare for 38 weeks of the year. 

Some childcare providers may allow you to use your funded hours over more weeks by using fewer hours each week. Speak to your childcare provider to find out if you can spread the funding over more weeks.

Some providers may not offer 15 hours funded childcare, or they may only be able to offer limited hours. This could be due to available places or their opening times.

You can use the 15 hours at more than one childcare provider. 

The funding does not cover the cost of additional services or items and your childcare provider may charge extra for these. These could be:

  • lunch
  • nappies
  • trips
  • music classes

Even so, you must not be asked to pay a fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hours place, and must be offered alternative options such as choosing to provide your own child's lunch, for example.

Claiming other childcare funding at the same time

If you're eligible, you can claim other funding schemes at the same time, including:

Find out which funding schemes work best for your family with the online childcare calculator

Make a complaint

Find out what to do if you want to complain about your childcare provider, funding or funded childcare.

Contact us

Contact the Family Information Service for help and advice.

Family Information Service - Dorset Council

Tel: 01305 221066
Full contact details

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