Funded early education for two-year-olds

Your child could be eligible for 15 hours a week of funded childcare

How does it work?

If you have a child aged two-years-old and you meet the eligibility criteria (opposite) you are entitled to a maximum of 15 hours per week of funded early education, for 38 weeks per year.

This will start from the term after your child’s second birthday and will continue until they are entitled to the early years education for three and four-year-olds.


At any Ofsted registered provider such as a local nursery, pre-school, playgroup or childminder that is eligible to receive funding. To find out about childcare options in your area, please contact our Family Information Service.

The benefits

Research has shown that good quality early education can:

  • Improve children’s development, including learning and communication skills
  • Help them learn to socialise and play with new friends
  • Give your child the experience of playing new activities including messy play that you may not want to do at home!
  • Be the first steps towards getting ready for school

Childcare is also good for families.

It gives you a bit more time to spend with other children, take up a college course, volunteer, go back to work, or just have some you time.

Are you eligible?

To receive funded childcare, you must receive one of the following benefits or meet one of the criteria below:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • tax credits and your family have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • Working Tax Credit 4 week run-on (payment you get after no longer qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • If you and your partner are on a low income and not exceeding £15,400 a year and are either:
    • In receipt of Universal Credit
    • Excluded from claiming public funds as a consequence of your immigration status, or lack of immigration status; and
    • In receipt of support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989

Even if you do not meet the criteria above, your child may still be eligible for funded childcare if any of the following apply:

  • you’ve received a DWP postcard from the local authority with a unique reference number (URN) on
  • your child has been in local authority care for 1 day or more
  • they’ve been adopted from local authority care has left local authority care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or an adoption order
  • your child has a statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan (EHC)
  • your child gets a Disability Living Allowance

In addition to the above criteria, you are able to take up a funded place if you have one of the following types of immigration status:

  • Zambrano carer (derivative right to reside in the UK under European law as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult)
  • Leave to remain with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) granted on family or private life (Article 8) grounds
  • Been refused asylum in the UK and receiving support from the Home Office under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

How do I apply or find out more?

To find out about childcare options in your area or to apply for the funding, please contact:
Reading’s Family Information Service
Find out more at
Call 0118 9373 777, option 2

Email [email protected]

To find out the support and any activities you and your child could benefit from, including your local children’s centres, visit: