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Funding for 2 year olds

Up to 15 hours per week of free early education and childcare is available to eligible 2 year olds from September 2013 as part of the Government's strategy to extend the offer of free early education and childcare.


In order to be eligible families must meet the following criteria:

The child must be two years of age (the funding will start from the term after the childs second birthday if allocated).

Parents need to be in receipt of one of the following to meet the Free School Meals criteria in order to receive two year funding.


  • Income support
  • Income - based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income - related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of the State Pension Credit
  • Child tax credit, and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
  • Working Tax Credits (including those in receipt during the four week period immediately after their employment ceases, or after they start to work fewer than 16 hours per week) with a household income of less than £16,190 as assessed by HMRC.


  • Children who are currently looked after by the local authority (LAC)
  • Children who have left care through a special guardianship or an adoption or residence order
  • Children with a current statement of education needs or an education, health and care plan.
  • Families in receipt of the Disability Living Allowance
  • Children who are in a family who are currently working with social care.


Making an application

To apply please visit your local Children's Centre and ask a family worker to complete the forms with you or alternatively download them here.


Completed application forms should be sent to:

Bedford Borough Council

       Family Information Service

5th Floor

Borough Hall

Cauldwell Street


MK42 9AP


Approval of Application

Once the application forms are received by Bedford Borough Council the application will either be approved or rejected. We aim to inform the parent or referring professional within one week after receiving the application form.  As places are limited applications will be placed on a waiting list if all the funding has been allocated. You may find this flowchart outlining the application process useful.


Finding a childcare setting

A parent may be aware of a childcare setting that they would like to use and can specify this on the application form.  Otherwise our Outreach Officer will support the parent to find a suitable childcare setting for their child.


Only childcare settings that meet the following criteria can be used:

  • Have a good or outstanding Ofsted inspection outcome or be actively working towards a good rating
  • Regularly evaluate the quality of their provision through an improvement process


Bedford Borough Council will organise the funding direct with the chosen childcare setting.


Ongoing support

The Outreach Officer will provide, where necessary, ongoing support for parents which may include greeting the parent at the childcare setting on their first day or calling the parent to see how they are getting on.


Please refer to our leaflet Free Early Education and Childcare for 2 year olds for parents for more information.


To find out more information please contact the Family Information Service on  0800 023 2057 or email fis@bedford.gov.uk

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