Raising awareness of funding for vulnerable two-year-old children

SCIE is helping the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) to raise awareness about the 15 hours funded early years provision, particularly to more families who are vulnerable. This programme improves the health, learning and development of disadvantaged two-year-old children as well as being beneficial for the parent.

Benefits of two-year-old funding for vulnerable children

Social worker

  • Childminder/nursery practitioner is an extra support to the family and can input into Child and Family Assessment/Child
  • Protection planning
  • Pre-school children are made more visible to professionals
  • Improved outcomes for family
  • Child development can be assessed and any issues picked up on
  • Promote equality and inclusion
  • Minimising risk for the child and building resilience
  • Fulfil Local Authority duty under Children Act 2016 to secure free childcare for qualifying children


  • Parents accessing childcare often access other services such as Children’s Centre activities, family support services and meet other parents
  • Maintain a routine, model learning and play at home
  • Funded hours give parent time for appointments, self care, counselling, job searching
  • Childminders in particular are fantastic at befriending and supporting parents
  • Additional support system


  • Improved communication and language, social and emotional skills
  • Easier transition into three/four year old placements and school
  • Early years learning crucial to long-term development
  • Reduce damaging influences of poverty on life chances, narrow the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers
  • Learning and play often continued at home

Long-term advantages

  • Increased equality for disadvantaged groups in our community
  • Child less likely to be in a step up / step down within social care cycle
  • Parent more integrated into the community
  • Parents/carers gain knowledge to access all entitlements that they/their child are entitled to
  • Children with SEND and EAL are supported before school and are less disadvantaged when they begin school

Is the child I'm working with eligible?

Needs-based criteria

Two-year-olds can get funded for 15 hours per week (term time) childcare if they:

  • Are looked after by a local authority
  • Have a statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • Get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Have left care under an Adoption Order, Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order
  • Non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits
  • Claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • Been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

If your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

  • Leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • The right to live in the UK because you're the main carer of a British citizen (known as a 'Zambrano Carer')

Income-based criteria

Parent/carer lives in England and gets one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payment
  • Tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year before tax
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

How can I support parents/carers?

  • Your Local Authorities’ Families Information
  • Service/Families Information Directory
  • Your Local Authority Online Childcare Portal

Useful resources from PACEY