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Funded childcare places for 2 years olds

Your 2-year-old may be entitled to funded childcare in Suffolk, please take the following steps to find out:

  1. Use our online checker to see if your child is eligible: Funded early education for 2-year-olds | Suffolk County Council
  2. Read the information below as your child could be eligible based on other criteria (even if the checker says they are not be eligible).

Last reviewed January 2023

Check your child's eligibility

A) You may be eligible if you receive any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Support through Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • State Pension Credit (the guaranteed element)
  • Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit and earn no more than £16,190 per year
  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments. (If a parent is entitled to Universal Credit they must have an annual net earned income not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.)
  • Use the online checker to find out if you can get free childcare for your 2-year-old.*

*Information about using the online checker:

  1. The online checker link will take you to the 'Two Year Old Funding Application’ website.
  2. You'll need your National Insurance Number.
  3. If you're eligible you'll be able to print a Suffolk County Council headed paper letter at the end of your application.
  4. Give the letter to your chosen childcare provider, they will check that this is valid and let you know when your child can start their free childcare.

If you experience any issues with your application, and believe that you meet the eligibility criteria listed above, you can take along paper evidence that proves this to your chosen childcare provider.


B) Your child may also be eligible based on the following (non-economic) criteria if:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

Take proof to your chosen childcare provider if any of the above applies to your child. 


C) If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits:

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • 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’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child or;
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children a year or less after tax,

and you have either:

Take proof to your chosen childcare provider if any of the above applies to your child. 

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.

My child is eligible - when will my 2 year old start to receive the funded childcare?

Your child can start receiving funding from the term after their second birthday.

Turns 2 years between:                Claim Funding from the beginning of the:

1 January - 31 March                     Summer Term (April)

1 April - 31 August                         Autumn Term (September)

1 September - 31 December          Spring Term (January) 

For more information:

Speak to your current childcare provider (day nursery, pre-school playgroup or childminder). They will check if you are eligible.

Or phone the Suffolk Family Information Service

How will the funded childcare benefit my 2 year old?

An early start helps to build children’s social and emotional capabilities enabling children to be happily engaged with others, to learn and fully develop.

Children benefit significantly and the funded hours can help improve families daily routines.

Your child will receive quality early learning opportunities which will help their:

  • Intellectual development
  • All-round development
  • communication, language and literacy skills,
  • Exploration of the environment around them,
  • social/behavioural development,
  • Independence and confidence.
How do I apply?

For more information, you can:

  • speak to your current childcare provider (day nursery, pre-school playgroup or childminder), who will check if you are eligible and complete an application form with you
  • phone the Suffolk Family Information Service (FIS) helpline on 0345 60 800 33 or text us on 07624 801060 (if you text us, we will call you back)
  • email us at childcare.planning@suffolk.gov.uk

Find registered childcare providers in your local area

To find childcare providers that offer funded early education places for 2-year-olds, you can either contact the FIS helpline on 0345 60 800 33 or go to our Family Services Directory website to search online for childcare providers by following these steps:

  1. Put your full postcode in the location box field
  2. Click on the arrow from the Family Service Directory box field to select childcare and click Search.
  3. This will show you a list of childcare providers in your local area.
Do you have a Golden Ticket?

Suffolk County Council post Golden Tickets to some eligible families to let them know they qualify for funded childcare for their 2 year old, and to help make it easier for parents to apply with a childcare provider.

The non-transferable Golden Tickets include a unique reference number which parents can take to their chosen childminder, day nursery or preschool playgroup as proof that they are eligible to receive up to 15 hours funded childcare per week during term time (or fewer hours per week stretched over the whole year).

The Golden Tickets must be used with a childcare provider who is registered with Ofsted and rated either “Good” or “Outstanding”. (If parents want to attend a childcare provider that is rated “Requires Improvement” they will need to apply online and do an additional eligibility check - go to http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/two).

The Golden Tickets should be taken to a childcare provider before the expiry date ends to apply for the funded childcare. The funded childcare will start from the term after your child's second birthday and it will continue up until your child starts school see  "When will my 2 year old start to receive the funded childcare" above for details.) and once you have started receiving the funded childcare it will continue even if your circumstances change. 

Parents may still be eligible for funded childcare for their 2 year old even if they did not receive a golden ticket in the post. You can still check if you are eligible by using our online 2 year old checker to apply at www.suffolk.gov.uk/two.


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