The importance of early learning and childcare

Early learning and childcare supports young children to learn while they play, and helps them develop skills for later life such as:

  • The ability and confidence to make friends and build relationships.
  • To develop and support their language development.
  • Be curious about the world around them, solve problems and be creative.

Access to funded Early Leaning and Childcare can support parents and carers to access work, training or study.

Find out if you are eligible for funded early learning and childcare

Parents/carers who are in receipt of benefits listed below are entitled to funded early learning and childcare for their 2 year old child after their 2nd birthday as follows:

  • 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.

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

The income thresholds for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit can vary annually.

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

Children will continue to receive funded ELC until they start primary school.

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.

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 new Scottish Child Payment (£40 every 4 weeks for eligible children under 6 years of age) opened on 15 February 2021.

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.