Children aged 2 years old could be eligible for funded early learning and childcare if they live in a household where a parent or carer is:

  • in receipt of certain benefits (listed below); or
  • care experienced.

Eligible benefits are:

  • Income support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment Support Allowance (income-based)
  • Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC), but not Working Tax Credit and your income is less than £16,480
  • Both Maximum CTC and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income is under £7,500
  • Support under Part VI of the immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit with household take-home pay is £625 a month or less

Please note: Income thresholds for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit can vary annually.

Care experienced parents and children

Two year olds are also eligible for funded hours if they are, or have been at any point since their 2nd birthday:

  • looked after
  • under a kinship care order
  • under a guardianship order

From August 2021, care experienced parents are now eligible to apply for funded early learning and childcare for their 2 year old child. Types of care include:

  • Foster Care
  • Kinship Care
  • Residential Care
  • care arranged to comply with a compulsory supervision order (looked after at home/away from home)

When can my child start?

For children who reach 2 years of age between 01 March and 31 July the start date will be at the beginning of the Autumn Term (August).

For children reaching 2 years between 01 August and 28 February of the following year the start date will be one month after the child's 2nd birthday.

Children will continue to receive funded ELC until they start primary school. Parents need to apply for early learning and childcare for when their child turns 3 years old and will be in receipt of the universal entitlement.

Where is funded ELC delivered?

The normal pattern of attendance is 9am - 3pm, Monday - Friday (term-time).

Funded ELC for 2 year olds is available at these ELC settings:

We also work in partnership with a number of private providers and childminders.

The importance of early learning and childcare

Young children learn new things every single day no matter where they are, but we know that spending time in a high quality early learning and childcare setting can really boost their all-round development and learning. Have you discovered the big benefits of ELC?

Parent Club has more information about early learning and childcare in Scotland.

Access to funded early learning and childcare can support parents and carers to access work, training or study.

How to apply

Applications can be made at any time after your child has turned 2.

To apply for a place or for more information:

Financial support

As a parent/carer of a young child, you may be eligible for additional financial support.

The Scottish Child Payment is a weekly payment of £10 that you can get for every child you look after who's under 6 years of age. You'll get the payment every 4 weeks if your application is successful.

The Best Start Grant is available to families:

  • if your child is the right age for a payment
  • whether you're in work or not, as long as you're on certain payments or benefits
  • as long as you're the parent of a child, or the main person looking after the child