This is a scheme that allows eligible children to receive free early education from the funding period after their second birthday. This is part of a national offer from the Department for Education (DfE) and has been developed to improve outcomes for identified two year olds who would benefit from access to high quality early years and childcare provision. Early years and childcare providers also link with local children's centres where providers and families of children who attend early years education can get a range of family support.
Early years education takes place in pre-schools, day nurseries and with childminders. The parent/carer of children accepted onto this offer will be able to choose from a list of quality groups and childminders who have been approved by Hampshire County Council as providers.
Children who are confirmed as eligible will be offered a place of up to 15 hours per week (a maximum of 570 hours per child's eligible birth year). If you choose a provider who is open for more than the academic year (38 weeks), you may also “stretch” the free hours across the year to cover most school holidays. You would need to speak to your child's setting to see if this is available as not all providers offer this.
See "stretched offer" for further details.
Eligible children can start claiming free early years education after they turn two. The earliest date your child can start will depend on when his/her birthday is:
1 January - 31 March
1 April - 31 August
1 September - 31 December
If your child starts his/her placement after this date, funding will start from when your child takes up the place with an approved provider.
At your chosen provider you will need to confirm when your child attends and how the free hours will be taken. You will be asked to complete a Parent Declaration Form. The free early years education can be accessed over 2 days or more per week, a total of 10 hours can be accessed in one day. The total number of free hours is 570 per child's eligible birthday year. Your chosen provider will have details of what they offer.
Once your child turns three he/she will be able to continue to have free early years education as part of the usual early years education entitlement for three and four year olds. If you wish to have more than your free hours this is possible if your provider is able to offer this. Any additional hours or services that are not part of the free early years education will need to be paid for by the parent/carer. Your provider will have details of what additional services they offer.
The funding gives your child up to 15 hours a week of playing, painting, reading, cooking, climbing, singing, dancing, dressing up, running around, building, gardening ... whatever they like doing. But most of all, your child is learning with other children. That's also 15 hours a week for you: - to have a break, get things done at home, study, or to return or look for work.
Children must meet either criterion A, B or C to be eligible for funding.
Income based Job Seekers Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Support under Part 6 (VI) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
Child Tax Credit and have an annual gross household income of no more than £16,190 as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
Working Tax Credit and have an annual household gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
Working Tax Credit 4 week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
Child in Care
Child Leaving Care in Special Guardianship, adoption or child arrangements order (previously residence order)
N.B. Details of a Social Worker able to verify the above information is required.
Children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Child with a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN)
Child with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan)
If you think your child might be eligible to receive free 2 Year Old early years education, please have look through the eligibility criteria in this table.
The easiest way to apply is to use the online Early Years Checker system. The parent/carer will be asked to provide certain details:
Parent's name and date of birth
National Insurance Number or National Asylum Seekers Number
Child's name and date of birth
The details provided will be verified using the Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) provided by the Department for Education (DfE).
(Hampshire Council County is the Data Controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act. We collect information and personal data securely. Please refer to our Privacy Notice 25 kB regarding free early years education and the Eligibility Checking Service.)
Should a parent/carer be unable to use the online Early Years Checker system, he/she can use the paper based Request form 77 kB which must be completed in full and signed by the parent/carer. The request form should be sent to your local area-based Services for Young Children (SfYC) office listed on the form or here.
If you need help in completing the online application (or fill in your request form) please talk to your health visitor, local early years provider (nursery, pre-school, childminder); or visit your local children's centre who will help.
Your local children's centre can be found here.
For online applications the Early Years Checker system will be used and the appropriate eligibility checks will be done by the Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) provided by the Department for Education (DfE). The service will provide an immediate outcome for parents/carers meeting the economic criteria. A reference number and further instructions on what to do next will be given to the parent on the screen.
Where the parent is 'Not found' on the Eligibility Checking Service, the parent will receive an instruction to check the information that has been submitted is correct, and resubmit if not; or contact Services for Young Children to provide documents to show that the economic criteria have been met, e.g. for Working Tax Credit TC602 Tax Credit Award Notice.
Where the family meets the non-economic criteria: Children Looked After by the Local Authority or Child with Special Educational Needs or/and Disability, the parent can still apply but MUST tick the appropriate box in section 3 of the application "Your child's details" to show the application is under 'other criteria' (then select the eligibility criteria met). At the end of the application the parent/carer will be prompted to send supporting evidence to their local area-based Services for Young Children (SfYC) office listed here.
If it is easier, parents under the non-economic criteria:Children Looked After by the Local Authority or Child with Special Educational Needs or/and Disability may wish to complete, in full, a paper application using the Request form 77 kB and provide supporting evidence, as detailed on the form. This should then be returned to their local area-based Services for Young Children (SfYC) office listed here.
Where the family meets the economic criteria but is not able to apply online, the parent needs to complete a Request form 77 kB in full and return to their local area-based Services for Young Children (SfYC) office listed here.
On receipt of the Request form initial checks will be undertaken by the Services for Young Children (SfYC) office using the Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) provided by the Department for Education (DfE) where required, or from any evidence provided at the time of application.
Services for Young Children staff will notify the parent/carer (and referrer if there is one on the paper application) of the outcome of the request.
The family's catchment children's centre will be notified that an application has been made as the centres are asked to follow up on applications.
Childcare providers used for placements will need to have an Ofsted rating of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ and/or have been assessed by the Services for Young Children local development team as meeting the standards required. Should a family want to take up a placement with a provider not on the 2 Year Old Offer list, the local development team would need to discuss entry to the scheme with the provider.
Search for approved 2 Year Old providers.
There is no additional funding available to meet transport costs. There may be an opportunity for a childminder to support the family and collect and drop off children but this would have a fee payable by the parent/carer.
Providers of early years education can charge for a meal if the child attends during a mealtime and the parent/carer agrees to this. Most providers will allow for a parent/carer to send in a packed meal for his/her child. You should discuss this with your provider.
If you are only taking up your free early years education your provider should not charge you for anything additional (except for meals).
If you having additional hours or other services offered by the provider they may charge you for these including a registration/administration charge. The setting must provide you with an invoice for your child's attendance and this should clearly show charges made as well as showing your free hours.
If you have any concerns about the fees or charges your provider is asking you to pay, you can contact Services for Young Children on 01962 847070 or email email@example.com.
Once a child has been accepted onto the 2 Year Old early years education scheme and has started attending with an early years provider, this will continue until the child moves into the usual early years education entitlement, the funding period following his/her third birthday.
Should the family circumstances change, for example, if the parent/carer stops receiving benefits, the offer will not be removed.
Although parents can apply themselves, families needing help to access the scheme can be supported by a referrer.
The expectation is that the referrer will use the online Early Years Checker system to make the application with the parent/carer.
The referrer would be expected to ensure the parent/carer is able to make contact with providers, or to support them in arranging a placement for the child.
Search for approved 2 Year Old providers.
If the referrer is aware of any reason a parent/carer is unable to do this for themselves, they should let Services for Young Children know (for example, if the parent is unable to access written materials or would have any other difficulties in contacting providers).
If a family is identified as having particular needs but does not meet the criteria of the 2 Year Old early years education scheme, a 'Request for Support' should be made to the family’s local children’s centre. The children’s centre will be able to offer practical help and advice or signpost to other appropriate services if needed.
The family's local children's centre can be found here.
For general enquiries contact Services for Young Children on 01962 847070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org