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Early learning places for 2 year olds

Children of eligible parents can access up to 15 hours of funded early education for up to 15 hours per week. If eligible, your child could get up to 15 hours a week of funded early learning and childcare in a participating day nursery, pre-school, school nursery or with a childminder (please note that not all settings provide the funded entitlements).

Further information is available the following sections:

The benefits of an Early Education for your child

  • Early Education gives children the chance to learn, play and make new friends    
  • Early Education gives children some preparation for starting school
  • You can arrange childcare to fit around your personal needs

Is my child eligible?

Your 2-year-old can get funded early education and childcare if you live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)
  • Tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

A child can also get funded early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they’re looked after by a local council
  • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

If you meet the following criteria then you may be eligible for a funded early education and childcare place for two year olds however you cannot apply through the Redbridge Parent Portal online and must complete an application form, click here for more details and a copy of the application form:

  • Children of Zambrano Carers
  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’)

The following dates show when your child is eligible for their Early Education Entitlement. 

A child born on or between …

Will become eligible for a funded place from …

1 April and 31 August

1 September following their 2nd birthday

1 September and 31 December

1 January following their 2nd birthday

1 January and 31 March

1 April following their 2nd birthday

How do I apply?

If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria above you can apply for your child’s  early learning place on the online Redbridge Parent Portal at https://parentportal.redbridge.gov.uk.  You will need to provide a variety of information including your National Insurance number and you and your child's details on the system.

If you are eligible you will be sent an email confirming you are entitled to a place. You will need to provide this to your chosen provider at the earliest opportunity.

If you meet one of the following criteria then should read the additional guidance provided here:

  • Children of Zambrano Carers
  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’)

The provider will ask you to complete a Parent Declaration Form which will confirm that your child will be attending the setting. This will need to be completed before your child accesses their place and will need to be updated by every year.

The form will confirm the number of free early education hours are being offered each term. This information must be provided on the form before you are asked to sign - if it isn't please ask the provider to confirm these details first.

Finding an early learning provider

You can find a full list of participating childcare settings here. If you would like further support in finding a suitable provider please contact FiND.

It is important to ensure that what your chosen provider can offer is right for you and your child. You should discuss your requirements with the provider prior to coming to an agreement.

What your child’s place will offer

The early learning place can provide up to 15 hours a week of funded early education. It is usually either offered as a term time only place of 38 weeks per year (15 hours per week), or as a stretched offer over 51 weeks (up to 11.17 hours per week).

Different settings will provide the early years places in different ways, however sessions must meet the following conditions:

  • No session is longer than 10 hours
  • Early learning must take place between 6.00am and 8.00pm
  • Funding may be taken across no more than three settings and at a maximum of two premises in a single day

Whether you wish to access just the funded early learning place or if you choose to access additional hours or services, the provider’s offer to you should always be clear and transparent. Where you are accessing any unfunded hours or additional services you should ensure this is clearly explained by your provider and a contract is put in place that clearly states the agreement. You should ask to see this before committing to a childcare place. If you are in any doubt, ask questions before agreeing to a place.

Accessing the funded early learning place at more than one setting

You are able to claim your funded early learning place at up to three different settings, as long as they are not based on more than two premises. For example, your child could access a breakfast club and nursery class at a school, followed by a childminder. Where you are accessing a place at more than one setting please ensure that you are clear with all settings how many hours of funded early learning that they are each offering your child.

Where your child is attending more than one setting you will need to ensure that the settings include this information on your Redbridge Parent/Carer Declaration Form.

Moving your child to a new setting

Children can move their funded early education place from one setting to another during certain times of the year. If you intend to move your child, then you will need to consider the following:

  • The funding cannot be moved from one setting to another towards the end of a term. You can check the cut-off date with your Redbridge setting
  • You should give the setting that your child is leaving as much notice as possible. From 1 April 2020 you must give at least 4 weeks written notice and will be unable to access funding at another provision until 4 weeks from the notice given, or from the child's last day of attendance. If your child does not return to their setting in the new term and you have not advised the previous setting your 4 weeks notice will start from the first day of term and you will be unable to claim funding at a new setting during this time
  • If you access additional paid hours and services then you will need to ensure that you are meeting any contractual notice periods
  • You should inform the new provider that your child was previously attending another setting

If you have missed the deadline for moving your child, please discuss this with the early years setting at the earliest opportunity. You will likely need to pay for the remainder of the term or alternatively wait until the following term to access a free early learning place:

Will I have to pay anything?

The offer of a funded early education and childcare place must be offered ‘free at the point of delivery’. This means that if your child is only receiving the funded hours without any additional paid hours or services then you will not be expected to make any payment to the provider to access your child’s place.

The funded early learning place also only covers the cost of your chlid’s care and early learning. If you are only accessing the funded early learning place then you can choose to provide a packed lunch which would not incur an additional cost, or pay the additional fee for any meals and/or snacks provided by the setting.

If you wish to access any additional hours outside of the funded place, then you will have the option to pay for additional hours. Where your child accesses additional services (such as meals, nappies and other consumables) your provider is entitled to charge for these services.

All childcare providers should have a clear and concise charging policy so that there is no misunderstanding of any costs. The arrangements for payment are a private matter between providers and parents.

If you are asked to pay for your child’s funded early education and childcare place in advance, or if you have any concerns about how your child’s funded place has been calculated you can contact FiND for further advice. Please see the section ‘Further advice and support’ below.

What happens if I stop being eligible?

If you have not yet accessed a place for your child then unfortunately you will no longer be eligible to access the funded early education place.

If your child is already accessing their funded early education place then they may continue to do so until they become eligible for the funded early education places for three and four year olds.

Further advice and support

For further information and support please contact Families Information Direct (FiND) 

Complaints process

Please contact FiND  in the first instance. If FiND are unable to reach a satisfactory conclusion to your query and you wish to register a complaint (either regarding a dispute associated with your child's Free Early Education Entitlement place within a setting or the policies mentioned in this guidance) this should be raised in accordance with the Redbridge complaints policy. Full details of the London Borough of Redbridge Complaints Procedure can be viewed on www.redbridge.gov.uk/complaints

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