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Early learning and childcare for eligible two-year-old children

If you are the parent or carer of a two-year-old child and if you meet the criteria your child may be eligible for a free place.

If you are the parent or carer of a two-year-old child and if you meet the criteria your child may be eligible for a free place.

Funded early learning and childcare is available if your child is 2 or over and is or, since they turned 2, has been:

  • looked after (as defined in section 97(2) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995)
  • under a kinship care order (as defined in section 11(1) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995)
  • lives with a Parent Appointed Guardian (as defined in section 72(1) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995)

If you are the parent or carer of a two-year old and if you meet the criteria your child may be eligible for a free place.

How to qualify

You need to be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Income based job seekers allowance
  • Any income related element of the Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you receive tax credits or universal credit, then you can earn a certain amount of money and still be eligible.

If you are on Child Tax Credit:

  • but not Working Tax Credit, then your earnings can be £16,480 or less
  • and Working Tax Credit, then your earnings can be £7,500 a year or less

The income thresholds for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit can change each year.

  • If you are on Universal Credit, then your household take-home pay can be £625 a month or less (based on equivalent of £7500 per year)

"Take-home pay" is the money your household receives from work after tax, National Insurance and any pension contributions have been taken off. Your award letter will tell you how much your take-home pay is for the claim period. This should be £625 or less.

Once your child qualifies for early learning and childcare, they'll stay qualified. Even if you get a job, or their situation with a parent or carer changes

Changes to eligibility

From August 2021 funded early learning and childcare will also be available to 2 year olds who have a care experienced parent.

If you think you qualify or would like more information please email

The entitlement is up to 1140 hours of free early learning and childcare in a full year. The amount offered is pro rata and will vary, depending on the child's eligible start date. Where circumstances allow, the hours will be offered in a way that gives parents/carers some choice and flexibility over what the pattern will be. For example, a child attending during school term time (38 weeks) can use a maximum of 30 hours per week or 23 hours 45 minutes per week over a 48-week period.

The place will not necessarily be with a council nursery. We have developed arrangements with partner providers who can deliver the service on the council's behalf. These could be more suitable for parents who require greater flexibility with their allocated hours.

How does it work?

Once your application has been processed and your eligibility is confirmed you will be provided with a list of approved childcare providers in your area. It is then up to you to secure a place with your preferred service and agree on a pattern of attendance.

Please note that all places are subject to availability. 

Once you have secured a place for your child and agreed on the attendance hours the childcare service will provide the council with details of the placement.

How do you apply?

If you think you may be eligible you should email the team at They will check that you are eligible and email or mail out an application pack.

Important information

Please note that securing a place for your two-year-old child does not have any bearing on your child's 3-5 funded place. You will need to submit a separate application form for a 3-5 ELC place.

Page last updated:
15 Jun 2021

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