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Government Funding

Funded childcare for eligible 2-year-olds

A Golden Ticket allows you to access Government funded childcare for your 2-year-old, if eligible.

Research shows that children who attend good and outstanding early years settings:

  • do really well with their language, physical and social development

  • settle quickly into school and do well in their new class

Using childcare could:

  • support you to return to work/start a job

  • give you time to do other things

Your 2-year-old is eligible for Government funded childcare if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support 

  • Income based Job seeker'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

  • The Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999


If you don't receive any of these benefits, you will still be eligible if your child:

  • is looked after by the local council

  • has left care through special guardianship, adoption or residency order

  • receives a Disability Living Allowance

  • has a current statement of special educational needs

  • has an education, health and care plan

To find out if your 2yr old is eligible for funding please visit

Funded childcare for eligible 3-4 year-olds

All 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to some Government funded early education prior to starting school. Early years research clearly shows that good quality early education does benefit children in the long term, particularly the most disadvantaged. It has also shown that high quality, pre-school provision enhances children's all round cognitive, language and social development.

From the term after their 3rd birthday all children are eligible for the government’s early learning and childcare funding and can attend for up to 15 hours per week.

Find out whether you could get up to 30 hours funded childcare. The 30 hours funded childcare offer is for working families in England with 3 and 4 year old children. Children are eligible from the term following their 3rd birthday until they reach compulsory school age. Parents must be working and each earning at least £120 a week, but no more than £100,000 a year.​

You might also be able to get Tax-Free Childcare. If so you can apply for both at the same time.

Funding Changes

The government are making the biggest investment to childcare in history. The pledge to spend in the next few years from around £4 billion to around £8 billion each year. 

By September 2025, working parents will be able to claim 30 hours of free childcare a week, over 38 weeks of the year, all the way through from nine months up to their child starting school. 

When does the 30 hours free childcare start? 

Eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds already get 30 hours a week of free childcare. 

The increased offer will be rolled out in stages to allow childcare providers time to be able to implement the changes, making sure the places that are needed are available across the country when the offers are introduced. 

From April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare. 

From September 2024, 15 hours of free childcare will be extended down to the age of nine months for working parents.

From September 2025, working parents of children aged nine months and upwards will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week right up to their child starting school. 

Like the existing offer, depending on your provider, these hours can be used over 38 weeks of the year (during school term time), or up to 52 weeks if you use fewer than your total hours per week. 

Why won’t this be available until 2025? 

This is a massive expansion in the offer and will take some time to implement and rollout. 

The staggered approach will give childminders and nurseries time to prepare for the changes, ensuring there are enough places ready to meet demand. 

The government is supporting with this, with plans to run a recruitment campaign for staff, offer new ways to train, for example with apprenticeships, and reviewing the rules about how nurseries use their staff to make sure they are as flexible as possible without compromising quality or safety. 

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