You may be eligible to apply for 570 hours of funded early education or childcare per year (15 hours per week over 38 weeks) if you're on benefits or you meet other criteria.

Apply online for 15 hours funded childcare for 2 year olds if you receive 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.

Apply for 2 year old funding if you receive any of the listed benefits

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

Contact the Family Information Service if you have any questions.

Other children eligible for 15 hours funded childcare for 2 year olds

Contact Early Education Funding to apply for 15 hours funded childcare for 2 year olds if your child:

  • is looked after by the local council
  • has left care through a special guardianship order (SGO), adoption or residency order
  • receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • has an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • gets social care support because they have been assessed as a child in need

Contact the Family Information Service if you have any questions.

You have a golden ticket

We send a golden ticket to some eligible families. If you get a golden ticket, you can use it to book your child's place with your chosen childcare provider to start claiming your funded hours.

You don't have a golden ticket

If you don't have a golden ticket, or your golden ticket has expired, you need to apply to get your funded hours. If you're eligible because you claim one of the listed benefits you can apply online. If you're eligible because you meet the other criteria you need to email Early Education Funding to apply.

Find a childcare provider

If you're eligible, the funded childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider
  • starts from the term after your child's second birthday

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. 

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. 

Contact the Family Information Service for help if you can't find suitable childcare.

What you will get

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 doesn't 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.

When will the funded childcare start?

If eligible, you can get 15 hours 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 from in this table:

Eligibility dates for 2 year old funded childcare
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.

What types of childcare can I use with the funding?

You can only use the funded childcare for two year olds with registered or approved childcare providers who offer early education funding and are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. This includes:

  • childminders
  • pre-schools, playgroups and nurseries

Search for childcare

Search our Family Information Directory to find childcare providers who can offer the scheme. You can filter your search by those offering funded early education and childcare.

Can you claim 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 about your childcare provider or funding

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

Family Information Service - Dorset Council

Tel: 01305 221066
Full contact details

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