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Services for Young Children

2 Year Early Years Education: Information for Professionals (Referrers and Service Providers)

What is the 2 Year Old Early Years Education scheme?

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. It will also offer help to tackle challenging circumstances, through family support.

What is free early years education?

Early years education takes place in pre-schools, day nurseries and with childminders. The parent/guardian 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.

Accepted children will be offered a place of up to 15 hours per week (a maximum of 570 hours per year) which may be “stretched”, i.e. the child can attend during school holidays.

For children who are eligible, you can start claiming free ealy education after your child turns two. The earliest date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is:

If your child starts their placement after this date, funding with start from when your child takes up their place with an approved provider.

Once your child turns three they will become part of the usual early years education offer.

If available from the parent/guardian’s chosen approved provider, up to 15 hours 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, but no more than 570 hours per year.

See "stretched" offer for further details.

What are the eligibility criteria for families?

From September 2013, children must meet either criterion A or B to be eligible for funding. (Prior to September 2013, the family must also meet additional criteria based on family support characteristics which should be marked clearly on the Request Form).

Criterion A – Children whose parents/guardians are in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:


Criterion B – Children looked after by the Local Authority:

N.B. ALL requests MUST be completed by child's Social Worker

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How can I refer a child?

If you know a family with a child who might be eligible to receive 2 Year Old Early Years Education, please have a look through the eligibility criteria and talk to them about it. Once you have enough information, you can apply by completing a request form and sending it to us. The parent/carer will be required to provide the details requested on the form and sign to give consent to share information so that other services the family uses know that they are part of the 2 Year Old Early Years Education scheme. The details provided will be verified using the Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) provided by the Department for Education (DFE).

Where do completed request forms get sent?

Request forms should be completed in full and must be signed by the parent/guardian and referrer. They should then be sent to the local Services for Young Children (SfYC) office as listed on the form.

How are the request forms processed? (Eligibility Checking Service)

Initial checks will be undertaken by the local services For Young Children (SfYC) administrative team using the Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) provided by the Department for Education (DfE). Authorised staff from SfYC will carry out the checks using an online application to ensure that families are eligible at the time of application. They will notify the parent/guardian and referrer of the outcome of the request. They will also notify the family’s catchment children’s centre that an application has been made to ensure family support can be offered. Where required, details will also be given to the Childcare and Family Information Team outreach worker to support placement matching.

What is expected of me as a referrer?

Once accepted onto the 2 Year Old Early Years Education scheme,  the parent/guardian will be sent an Acceptance letter and list of  providers. We would expect you to ensure the parent/guardian is able to make contact with providers or to support them in arranging a placement for their child. If you are aware of any reason a parent/guardian is unable to do this for themselves, you must let us know as part of the application (for example, if the parent is unable to access written materials or would have any other difficulties in contacting providers).

What if I do not have time to support a referral?

We hope you will understand that, by giving a little extra support at the time of referral and placement matching, this is likely to benefit you in the long term. However, if you know you will not be able to follow up with the parent/guardian, there is space on the request form to tell us this.

What do I do if I know of a family who would benefit from support but do not appear to meet the criteria?

If a family is identified as having particular needs but does not meet the criteria of the 2 Year Old Early Years education scheme, we would suggest a request for support is 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.

Can a child take up the offer with any childcare provider?

A list of local providers delivering the 2 Year Old Early Years Education will be made available to each family accepted. Providers used for placements will need to have an Ofsted rating of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ and/or have been assessed by our 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, our local development team would need to discuss with the provider entry to the scheme.

What about ‘extras’ like transport or meal costs?

There is no additional funding available to meet transport costs. If transport is an issue, we would like to support parents in their choice of provider. For example, it may be that a childminder could collect and drop off children. Providers can charge for a meal if the child attends during a mealtime and the parent/guardian agrees to this; however, a parent/carer may choose to send in a packed meal for his/her child.

What support will there be for the family?

Additional family support is a part of the 2 Year Old Offer. Families will be contacted by their local children’s centre and can choose whether or not to accept this help. Family support involves sharing information about other services within the community such as health services and other advice that may be of help. Family Support workers may also visit families at home to share ideas and activities which will help child development, encourage play and support for learning at home.

What happens if the family circumstances change?

Once a child has been accepted onto the 2 Year Old Early Years Education scheme and has started attending an early years provider, this will continue until the child moves into the usual early education entitlement the funding period following his/her third birthday. Should the family circumstances change, for example, if the parent/guardian stops receiving benefits, the offer will not be removed.

Contact us for more information

For general enquiries contact the Services for Young Children Information Support Team on 01962 847070 or email


Useful downloads and links for referrers

     Search for approved 2 Year Old providers

Information for early years education providers

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