Early years entitlement in England

Early years entitlement (EYE)

Whether you offer the early years entitlement to parents as part of your business model is totally up to you. 30 hours funded childcare has been available to parents since September 2017. From April 2024 working families with 2-year-olds will be able to claim 15 hours of funding for 38 weeks of the year if the meet the eligibility criteria and in September 2024 working families with children aged over 9 months who are eligible will also be able to claim 15 hours of funded childcare for 38 weeks of the year. 

When you deliver the early years entitlement, you will be paid directly by your local authority at the rate they have set. The rates vary depending on where you are in the country and are based on the Early Years National Funding Formula (EYNFF). You can read more about this here. 

No matter where they are, all local authorities have a duty to ensure that they deliver all funded hours according to the statutory guidance published by the government. The government has also produced a model agreement between local authorities and providers to standardise agreements and ensure consistency across different authorities, and has provided operational guidance which sets out what local authorities and providers should do to fulfil their duties. 

About EYE funding

The government provides varying levels of funding to help parents and carers of children aged 2, 3 and 4 with childcare costs. 


The 2-year-old offer provides funding for 570 hours per year of early years education to some of the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds. This means that when a child reaches age 2, they may be eligible for 15 hours of funded early education for 38 weeks of the year (term time), if parents already receive some level of government support. 

Families with a 2-year-old who meet the following criteria are eligible for the free places.

If families claim any one of the following:

  • 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 State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credits and have an annual gross household income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax credit Run-on – paid for 4 weeks after the claimant stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

A child is also eligible if they:

  • are looked after by the local authority
  • have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan (EHCP)
  • receive a Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or child arrangements order (formerly residence and contact orders).

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

From April 2024, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours childcare support.

Read more about the 2-year-old offer

3- and 4-year-olds

All 3- and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to up to 570 hours of free early education per year. This is often taken as 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year. The rate providers are paid to deliver these places is set by local authorities.

From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to eligible working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3-year-olds.

Some 3- and 4-year-olds

If a child has working parents they may be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare a week for 38 weeks of the year. This is equivalent to term time, but may be stretched over 50 weeks. Each parent, or the sole parent in a single parent family of a 3- or 4-year old, has to at least earn the equivalent of 16 hours on the national minimum wage per week, but no more than £100,000 per year, to qualify. Parents can also split their funded hours allowance across more than one provider.

From September 2025, eligible working parents of children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week.

Read how some childminders offer the early years entitlements


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