Many two-year-old children in Southampton are entitled to a childminder, preschool or nursery place for up to 15 hours a week in the term after their second birthday.
If you receive a postcard with a reference number, please find a childcare or education provider which you would like your child to attend and contact them directly quoting your reference number.
If you have not been sent a postcard, you can still find out if you qualify.
The places give children the chance to:
- Be around children their own age
- Take part in play-based activities which they may not be able to do at home
- Be in a warm and caring environment supervised by experienced staff.
The education and childcare providers that we use are approved by us and Ofsted. Their staff are committed to working in partnership with parents to ensure that children’s needs are met, which includes providing any help that is required with language skills and specific development needs.
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.
To be eligible, the parents of the child must be in receipt of and able to provide proof of one of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit Child tax credit or Working tax credit with an annual gross income into the household that is no more than £16,190
- Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
Also eligible are children who:
- Are looked after by a local council
- Have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
- Have an Education, Health and Care plan
- Receive Disability Living Allowance
- Are children of Zambrano Carers
- Are children of families with no recourse to public funds, with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of privacy/family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- Are children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
If you are unable to find out if you qualify online, please go to a Sure Start centre or education or childcare provider with your National Insurance number, where a member of staff will help you.
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.
Contact your childcare provider or or contact the Family Information Service (email@example.com) to find out more.
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
The free early education and childcare can be taken in a variety of settings in Southampton:
- school nursery class
- nurseries or pre-schools on school sites
- independent schools
- nurseries or pre-schools in Children’s Centres
- day nurseries
- 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 for 2 year olds must usually be judged by Ofsted as good or outstanding.
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.
Where are the settings that offer funded places in Southampton? 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
Your child is entitled to 570 hours of early education.
This can be used across a minimum of 38 weeks, and a maximum of 15 hours per week. For many children this will mean 3 hours a day during school term times.
You can 'stretch' your child's entitlement by taking fewer hours a week over more weeks of the year, where the provider has capacity to offer 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 6.00am or after 8.00pm
- 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.
Does my child have to take up their funded hours of education? SHOW
Your child does not legally have to attend any type of education until the term after their 5th birthday. However, this is a very important stage for your child as it helps get them ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes.
From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure, and support their development, care and learning needs. Attending an early years setting will ensure that you and your child are supported during this important period.
You can choose to use only part of your entitlement e.g. 2 sessions per week.
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 search the directory for settings, or contact the Family Information Service on 023 8083 3014.
Golden Ticket Postcard SHOW
If you are eligible for Free Nursery Education Funding for your 2 year old (based on financial criteria), you will automatically receive a Golden Ticket postcard from Southampton City Council. This postcard will have a unique reference code starting 'GT' on the flip side. You should give this code to the childcare provider of your choice.
I've heard about the 30 hour offer. Can my 2 year old get this? SHOW
30 Hours Funded Early Education/Childcare is for children aged 3 and 4 where all parents in the family are in work. Please see the 30 Hour Funded Early Education/Childcare page for details.