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All You Need To Know

Funded early learning and childcare for 2 year olds

If you are a parent of a two-year-old and are in receipt of certain benefits you could qualify for FREE Early Learning and Childcare.

Who is Eligible?

Entitlement to FREE Early Learning and Childcare is not universal for 2-year olds. Eligibility is based on parents who receive one of the following:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and your income's less than £16,105
  • Both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income's less than £7,320
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit and your household take-home pay is £610 a month or less

Or a 2 year old who are:

  • looked after
  • under a Kinship Care Order
  • living with a Parent Appointed Guardian

How to apply

If you meet the eligibility criteria outlined above, you need to complete the application form.

If you would like an application form sent to you, please email or telephone 030 33 33 3000 All completed application forms and additional evidence demonstrating that you are eligible can be emailed to or sent to the address outlined on the form.

Once we have received your completed application form and additional evidence (if applicable) we will write to you within 21 days. If do not hear from the Council within this timescale, you can email us and we will check that your application has been received.

Start dates

The start date will be detailed on the eligibility letter that you will receive from the Council. Start dates are based on the criteria detailed below.

Start dates for free childcare

Date of child's 2nd birthday

Start date for funded hours

1 March to 31 August

August (autumn term) occurring in that year

1 September to 31 December

January (spring term) following their birthday

1 January to last day of February

March/April (summer term) following their birthday

Choosing a provider

A list of providers can be found here. There's a lot to consider when choosing a provider such as location and facilities. You could visit providers in your area or speak to family and friends to find out more about what's on offer.

The Care Inspectorate inspects all providers to make sure they meet national standards. They publish inspection reports, so you can find out what quality of care you can expect:

Search childcare provider inspection reports

You can also visit the Scottish Family Information Service website to find out more about services near you.

Once you have chosen your provider, you will need to visit the provider to enrol your child. They'll complete all the enrolment forms with you, but you'll need to take:

  • your confirmation letter from the Council detailing that you are eligible
  • your child's birth certificate
  • proof of address

You can discuss the days of the week and the number of hours you would like with your chosen provider.

Customer Notice - Increasing ELC hours

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) is changing in Scotland and the number of hours children are entitled to will rise by August 2020 in order to offer more flexibility for families.

Eligible 2 year olds and all children aged 3 and 4 are currently entitled to 600 hours of funded ELC per year. The funded entitlement will almost double to 1140 hours.

Further support

You may qualify for support with childcare costs in certain circumstances:

Page last updated: 01/07/2020
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