Parents of very young children may have heard of free childcare funding for 2 year olds. However, exactly how many funded hours are available for 2 year olds? How does it work? How do you apply for the funding and what exactly is on offer? Also, is the funding still available during the Coronavirus outbreak? This article is here to explain virtually everything you need to know about free/funded hours for childcare, specifically for 2 year olds. Take a few moments and we’ll cover the key points for you.
We’ll limit this article to the rules for only UK residents who require childcare for 2 year olds in England, seeing as that’s where our customer base and nursery are located. (We are a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham). We’ll cover funding rules for 3 and 4 year old children in a separate article in due course.
Free early years education or childcare funding for 2 year olds
Firstly, it’s important to know that the number of free/funded hours available for early years childcare largely depends on the age of the child concerned. In a nutshell, 2 year olds may be eligible for up to up to 15 hours of free childcare/early education per week. Eligibility depends on a variety of additional factors, as we’ll see.
Eligible children aged two years of age are entitled to up to 570 hours of free childcare or early education per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours per week spread over 38 weeks of the year. However, exactly how it’s taken can be flexible in reality. In order to be eligible, the child must fall into a qualifying category of ‘additional needs’. Alternatively, the parent(s) must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit.
Those who receive the following benefits may be eligible: income-related JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance); income-related ESA (Employment & Support Allowance); Income Support; Universal Credit (for low parent/partner income e.g. if it’s less than £15,400 per annum after tax); Tax Credits (for low family income e.g. if it’s less than £16,190 before tax); State Pension Credit (the guaranteed part); Working Tax Credit ‘4 week run-on‘ payments that are received after eligibility for Working Tax Credit has ceased; and finally support via ‘Part 6’ of the Immigration & Asylum Act. (That’s typically where a parent is claiming asylum but has not yet received a decision).
What if you later stop receiving benefits?
What happens if your 2 year old is already receiving 15 hours of free childcare/early education but you later stop being eligible to receive the relevant benefits above? Your child will [… READ MORE]