Families with children aged two years old, who meet the eligibility criteria, are entitled to a maximum of 15 hours per week of free early education for 38 weeks per year from the term after their child’s second birthday. This will run until the child is eligible for the three year-old nursery education funding which is the term after their third birthday.
Early Education and Childcare Places Team contact details:
Tel: 020 8871 7899 (option 2)
Families must meet a particular criteria, to be eligible for a place, please see ‘Who can apply for an Early Education and Childcare Place’?
What is an Early Education and Childcare Place?
An Early Education and Childcare Place (EECP) provides high quality education and care for young children. An Early Education and Childcare Place will provide children with a broad range of knowledge and skills through a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities.
These places are available with childminders, nurseries and pre-schools and some primary schools that are registered to provide the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). In the borough of Wandsworth, there are currently no places available in Primary Schools.
The EYFS is a little bit like a curriculum in primary and secondary schools, but it is suitable for very young children, and it is designed to be flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests. Children learn by playing and exploring, being active, helping them develop their creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.
There are seven ‘early learning goals ’within the EYFS which Early Education providers use to help teach and support children. The areas ensure the activities are tailored to each child’s unique needs.
The early learning goals are separated into three prime areas and four specific areas. The prime areas are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
The specific areas are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Providers will carry out on-going observational assessments of children and use this information to help them make progress in their learning.
Who can apply for an Early Education and Childcare Place?
Parent/carers of a two year-old attending or wishing to attend a Wandsworth provider, must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
- Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit with an income of £15,400 after tax
Children are also entitled to a place if:
they're looked after by a local council (social services)
they have a finalised Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
they get Disability Living Allowance
- they have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
As part of the application process you will have to give permission for your details to be checked against the National Free School Meal database. You will need your National Insurance or NASS number to apply.
You will then receive an immediate 'yes' or 'no'.
When can my two year old have a place?
Children are eligible the term after their second birthday.
The term dates are the same every year and are set by the Government:
If your child is
They are eligible
When a child can
1 September –
Spring term -
Autumn term -
1 January –
Summer term -
Autumn term -
1 April –
Autumn term –
Autumn term -
If my online application is successful can I choose my own childcare provider?
The THRIVE Wandsworth website has a list of childminders, nurseries and pre-schools. However, there is no guarantee of places with a childcare provider of your choice, as availability of places is variable. Visit https://thrive.wandsworth.gov.uk for more information.
Where can I get an Early Education Place for my two year-old child?
An Early Education Place for two-year-old’s is high quality play-based provision available with a variety of early years childcare providers. All Early Education providers follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and are regulated and registered by Ofsted.
What happens if my income changes?
If your income changes, you are still able to keep your two-year-old place. However, if you are claiming tax credits, childcare vouchers or tax free childcare you must declare that you are receiving these hours for free. If you do not declare this information, you may have to pay the money back. Please call the EECP Team to discuss your options on 020 8871 8339.
What happens if I change address?
If you change address or move home your funding will not change.
How many hours/days Early Education is available?
Eligible two-year-olds will receive a maximum of 15 hours per week for 38 weeks. This will be pro-rata depending on when the child starts. Early Education providers that are open for more than 38 weeks are able to reduce the number of hours a child can receive per week, allowing the offer to be ‘stretched’ over a period the setting is open. For example, if a provider is open for 50 weeks, the stretched entitlement will be 11.4 per week. Please discuss with your chosen provider what they offer.
Will I need to make payments?
No – all educational fees will be paid by the Early Education and Childcare Places Team, direct to the Early Education provider. If you are asked to give a deposit or a registration fee by an provider, please call the EECP team to discuss this before making payments.
Please note: The funding cannot be used to pay for:
- Registration fees
What happens if my child does not attend the Early Education provider regularly?
Regular monitoring of attendance will take place. If your child does not attend regularly, the place may be offered to another family unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Can I change a provider if I am not happy?
If you would like to change your early education provider, you will have to give them the notice period they require before moving. You must tell the provider you will be leaving the nursery by given them a letter/email - this is called 'giving notice'. Most providers usually require a minimum of 4 weeks notice period, however, some providers may ask for a term's notice period. Please check the contract you have signed.
If for any reason you withdraw your child from your chosen childcare provider, you will not be able to take up a new place until you have served your 'notice period'. If you decide to remove your child from the childcare provider, you must inform the EECP Team immediately.
Example of Notice Letter
For the attention of _________________________________________(Name of Childcare provider)
Dear ____________________________________ (Childcare provider or nursery manager)
Please accept this letter/email as notice of termination for
________________________________________________________ (Child’s name)
As per our contract agreement, I am providing _______________ (4 weeks/ 1 month/ a terms) notice.
_________________________ (Child’s name) last day of care will be _________________
(Your name) ______________________
What happens when my child turns three?
If your provider is unable to offer your child an Early Education and Childcare Place for three to four-year-old’s free of charge, please contact the Early Education and Childcare Team who will help you to find an alternative provider.
You may wish to apply for an Early Education and Childcare Place for three-four-year-old’s in a primary school. Click here for more information and how to apply.
What happens if I am accessing Care to Learn funding?
If a parent is accessing Care to Learn funding they must inform Care to Learn their child is accessing a funded two-year-old place so any additional hours over and above their free entitlement can be funded.
What happens if I am already paying for childcare?
Some families who meet the criteria may already be paying for childcare and receive the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit. Families who are in receipt of the childcare element of working tax credit must inform HMRC on 0345 300 3900 to avoid overpayment.
It is important that families tell HMRC within one month of any changes as you may be overpaid and will have to pay back. They also might also have to pay a penalty of up to £300.
Please also look at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk for help with which childcare support would be best for you.
Some basic information is also available in other languages: