Free early education for 2 year olds

Some 2 year olds are eligible for 15 hours free early education funding

Image of man and child playing provided by 4Children and the photographer Gary Manhine

Is your child 3 or 4?

The Government will fund the cost of some early education for 3 and 4 year olds. More details on our early education page.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the funding one of the following financial criteria must apply:

Economic criteria

1. You are in receipt of one of the following benefits:

2.  Your family receives Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit provided your annual household income, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, does not exceed £16,190

Non-ecomic criteria

3. Your child has a current statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan; or attracts Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

4. Two year olds currently in the care of the local authority (Looked After Children) or who have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order.

How to apply

You can  check your eligibility for the funding by using the Oxfordshire County Council Citizen Portal

To check your eligibility under the economic criteria (1, 2) you will need your national insurance number. The citizen portal will provide an immediate outcome for those families applying under these criteria.

To check if you are eligible under the non-economic criteria (3, 4) you will need to supply evidence that supports your application. We may request further evidence to verify your eligibility.

 Apply Now

If you are entitled to the funding, you will receive a Two Year Old Funding Voucher which you must then show to the provider when arranging your child’s early education place. Once providers have seen evidence of eligibility, they will need to call the funding team at Oxfordshire County Council to confirm your child’s place at their provision and will need to quote the reference number contained within your voucher.

The provider will also require you to sign a parental agreement every term and will need to see proof of the child’s age (child’s birth certificate) and your address.

Who can help me to apply?

If you need help in completing the online application please talk to your health visitor, local early years provider (nursery, childminder, pre-school); or visit your local children's centre.

Your local children's centre can be found here.

If you prefer, you can also call the Family Information Service who can check your eligibility for you.

When can my child start?

Eligible children are able to start the term after their second birthday.

Born between: Can start from: When can I apply?
1 January to 31 March (inclusive) The start of the Summer funding period (April) following their 2nd birthday, until they access Free Entitlement 3 and 4 year olds (i.e. the funding period following their third birthday) January
1 April to 31 August (inclusive) The start of the Autumn funding period (September) following their 2nd birthday, until they access  Free Entitlement 3 and 4 year olds (i.e. the funding period following their third birthday) April
1 September to 31 December (inclusive) Thestart of the Spring funded period (January) following their 2nd birthday, until they access  Free Entitlement 3 and 4 year olds (i.e. the funding period following their third birthday) September

The two year old funding voucher will tell you the earliest date that your child can start their free place (should the childcare provider have a place available). We are unable to backdate funding prior to the date on the funding voucher.

What are the benefits to my child and family?

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.

Free early education can be taken at approved childcare providers (including childminders, day nurseries and preschools). Children will access good quality early years education, regardless of which type of setting they attend, although there's no guarantee of getting a place with a particular provider. Use the search facility below to find approved providers near you.

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