Free childcare for two year olds
Research shows that alongside good parenting, high quality part time childcare helps give children a great start, providing a solid foundation for the future. It can help to:-
- Improve children’s development, for example their communication skills
- Help them learn to socialise with other children and make friends
- Help them begin to get ready for school
- Give them access to exciting places to play and new activities including messy play that you might not want to do at home!
Childcare is also good for families – it can give you a bit more time to spend with your other children, take up a college course, or go back to work; pick up ideas of what to do with your child at home and how you can help them grow and learn.
Children in Shropshire are eligible for up to 15 hours of free childcare, starting the term after their third birthday, which continues until they start school. The good news is that some two year olds may also be entitled for up to 15 hours per week of free childcare, starting the term after their second birthday.
So, who is eligible for the free childcare for two year olds?
1. Families who are in receipt of one or more of the identified benefits below:
- Income Support
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Guarantee element of the State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HMRC) that does not exceed £16,190.
If you are in receipt of Working Tax Credit you will not be eligible for this funding.
2. Looked After Children (LAC).
When will my child be eligible?
If your family meets the criteria above you are entitled to the free place from the term following your child's second birthday.
- If your child was born between 1 January and 31 March you are entitled to the place from the Summer term (after Easter).
- If your child was born between 1 April and 31 August you are entitled to the place from the Autumn term (September).
- If your child was born between 1 September and 31 December you are entitled to the place from the Spring term (January).
What will my child get?
A Free Early Education/Childcare place is 15 hours over 38 weeks or a total of 570 hours which can be taken flexibly/stretched over the year (where the parent requests this and the provider is able to do this). However, this must be taken over a minimum of 2 days per week, and for 2.5 hours or more and less than 10 hours in any one day. If the offer is accessed over less than 2 days, then a portion of the offer will be lost. Once a place has been agreed for a child, it will remain funded until the child becomes entitled to a Free Early Education Place at 3 years, even where the family circumstances change and they may no longer meet the criteria.
Where can my child attend?
The quality of nursery education for two year olds is very important. Shropshire Council works with early learning providers (pre-schools, playgroups, nurseries and childminders) who are of a good standard and/or are committed to improving the provision. For details of these providers please contact us for a list of providers or ask your local provider if they are signed up. (Look out for the 24U logo).
How do I apply?
All you will need to do is complete an application form - also available from your Health Visitor, local children’s centre, childcare provider, primary school or library. When we receive your application we will carry out an eligibility check for you. By simply providing your 'name', 'date of birth', and 'national insurance number' we will be able to tell you if you are eligible to apply for a place.
When this information has been received and checked, if you are eligible, we will issue a funding approval letter which you can then take to the childcare provider of your choice and make arrangements for your child to start if they have a place available.