Childcare Costs

Nursery Funding for 2 Year Olds

2 year old nursery funding - government funded childcare

Government Funded Childcare


International research shows that children who spend longer in an early years provision have better educational outcomes later on. Nursery school not only gives children a head start in education. Sending children to nursery school also helps them learn and develop social skills in a safe and caring environment.

Government-funded childcare not only supports early childhood development but is also a great help for working parents. This article explores funding in general, in particular the important changes for two-year-olds from April 2024.


For two year old children, 15 hours of weekly funding per term exists already for some disadvantaged children. 3 year old children are currently eligible for between 15 hours and 30 hours funded childcare. Your child must have had their birthday before the term starts to be eligible for enrolment.

From April 2024, more government childcare funding will be available for working parents of 2-year-olds who qualify. This amounts to 15 hours of funded childcare a week and is applicable for 38 weeks of the year.
There are rules to follow to determine what you might receive. It may not be as difficult as you believe.

Here at Shine, we are happy to guide you through the process. We can even help you with the relevant paperwork, which you must complete and send to the local authority. You can contact us, should you have any specific questions around what your child is eligible for.



Nurseries have a hard time providing care all year because government funding is only available during school terms. You will receive funding for 38 weeks each year, the total number of weeks schools are open.

Most nurseries are open all year and may spread funding throughout the year to help with your finances. If funding is stretched across the year, 30 hours become 22 hours per week and 15 hours become 11 hours per week. Additionally in line with the strict funding rules, you can only use a maximum of 10 hours of funding on any one day. Many nurseries have sessions that mix funded and paid hours to make sure each session meets the needs of parents.

The funding aims to encourage parents to work or stay in work.

For 3-year-old funded childcare, the first 15 hours are universal, meaning they are available to all parents. To get the extra 15 hours, making it 30 hours total, you must meet specific requirements.

Starting in April 2024, the 15 hours of funding for 2-year-olds aims to help families who are working. Remember, some disadvantaged households can still get 15 hours, but they must meet certain requirements.

To qualify for the new 15 hours funding in April the following rules apply:

Starting in April 2024, working parents with 2 year old children can access 15 hours of 2 year old nursery funding each week. This is applicable for 38 weeks of the year. To qualify, your child must be 2 years old or turn 2 before 1st April, 2024. Additionally, you would need to have an annual income of at least £8,670 but less than £100,000. If you’re a couple, both partners must meet these income requirements. You can use the funded childcare concurrently with Tax-Free Childcare or Universal Credit for childcare.

Application Process for 2 Year olds:

You will need a code to give to access the childcare government funding. You can get this code if you have a government childcare account or get one on the Childcare Choices website:

Apply between January 15th and February 28th, 2024 to avoid having to confirm your eligibility again before the scheme starts.

Eligibility for Working Families:

Every parent or caregiver must earn at least the national living wage or minimum wage for working 16 hours a week. They must also earn less than £100,000 per year. There is no minimum hour requirement per week; the total amount earned determines the hours.

Looking ahead:

Going forwards there are more changes taking place in September 2024 and again from September 2025.

Starting in September 2024, the scheme will open up to children aged 9 months and older for 15 funded hours.

Starting in September 2025, all children under 5 will get 30 hours of free childcare per week through an extended scheme. We haven’t seen the specific rules yet for these future rollouts, which may change who is eligible.

Remember, the specific start date for your child depends on their birth date. Funding does not always cover additional costs, like meals or extras such as nappies or sunscreen. While we do offer the funded hours here at Shine, not all childcare providers do. It is best to check with your chosen provider to see if they do.

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