Funding for 2-year-olds
There are different options for funding childcare. Find the right one for you on the Childcare Choices website.
Nursery funding for 2-year-olds
Parents of a 2-year-old (or child coming up to 2) who receive certain benefits or meet other criteria, may be eligible for up to 15 hours in any week (maximum of 570 hours for a full year) of early education. Which can be used with a childminder, or in a pre-school or day nursery.
The entitlement starts the term after your child’s second birthday. It is for 15 hours per week over 38 weeks or 570 hours over a year. Parents have the option to take the 15 hours per week in a more flexible way to suit their individual needs. Parents should discuss this further with the provider of their choice.
Find out if you qualify for funding.
When can my child get funding? SHOW
Some 2-year-olds are eligible to 570 hours of free early years education. This is dependent on meeting certain criteria. Eligible 2-year-olds can take up a place the term after their 2nd birthday.
|Child's birthday||When your child can start||2-year-old funding eligibility check can be done from|
|1 January - 31 March||Summer term (1 April - 31 August)||1 January|
|1 April - 31 August||Autumn term (1 September - 31 December)||1 April|
|1 September - 31 December||Spring term (1 January - 31 March)||1 September|
If you would like your child to attend a pre-school or other provider at 2 years 9 months and you are not eligible for a funded 2 year old place, you will need to pay until your child is eligible for the 3- and 4-year-old funding. Free 3- and 4-year-old funding can be taken from the term after your child's 3rd birthday.
What are the eligibility criteria for 2-year-old funding? SHOW
Your 2-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you meet the eligibility criteria.
You can check your child's eligibility online.
If you need any further information, you can contact your childcare provider or the Southampton Family Information Service.
Will the 2-year-old funding stop when my child turns 3? SHOW
Your child will continue to receive 2-year-old funding until the term after their third birthday. Your child will then become entitled to the free early years education under the 3- and 4-year-old offer.
Please chat to your provider if you would like your child to continue with them. In most instances it is helpful for your child to continue their early education with the same provider as they will have built up a good relationship with you and your child.
Where can my child take up their early education place? SHOW
It's available at participating:
- School nursery classes
- Nurseries or pre-schools on school sites
- Independent schools
- Nurseries or pre-schools in Children’s Centres
- Day nurseries
- Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
- After school clubs
- Childminders (childminders cannot be funded for a child to whom they are related)
All settings that offer nursery education must be registered with Ofsted. Providers of funded early education places are usually judged as good or outstanding. Some settings with less than good or outstanding may be able to offer sessions.
You can use your entitlement at more than one provider, for example using a group provider and a childminder. We strongly recommend that you consider the impact on continuity of care for children when enabling children to take up their early education place at more than one provider, as some children find this very unsettling.
Settings may be run by private, voluntary, independent or maintained providers.
Find childcare on our directory. Each setting record will show whether they offer 2-year-old funding, 3- and 4-year-old funding, or both.
How many hours of early education can my child have? SHOW
You can use up to 15 hours per week, over 38 weeks per year or 570 hours a year. The entitlement is flexible and can be used over a minimum of three days per week.
If a provider is open for more than 38 weeks a year, then funding can be spread over the period that they are open. This will be dependent on whether a provider can accommodate this.
The following standards apply:
- No session to be longer than 10 hours
- No minimum session length (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
- Not before 6am or after 8pm
- A maximum of two sites in a single day
You will need to speak to your chosen provider about the availability and times of sessions available.
Will I have to pay anything towards my child's place? SHOW
Funding is paid directly to the childcare provider. You will be asked by the provider to complete a declaration form. If you need to pay fees for the additional services provided (for example, if a nursery is looking after your child for more than 15 hours in a week, or for lunch), the funding will be passed to you as a saving on your fees.
Your childcare provider or the Family Information Service can give you more information about any additional fees and charges which may be payable.
Where can I get information to help me choose? SHOW
To get a place for your child, you will need to find a setting suitable for you and your child. You can view our guide to choosing the right childcare setting and find local childcare.
I've heard about the 30 hour offer. Can my 2-year-old get this? SHOW
30 hours of funded early education or childcare is for children aged 3 and 4 where all parents in the family are in work. Please see the funding for 3- and 4-year-olds page for details.
Am I entitled to any additional funding to help pay my childcare costs? SHOW
Depending on your income and family situation, you could be eligible for additional support to help pay your childcare costs. View the help with childcare costs page to find out more or go to the Childcare Choices website.