This post is sponsored by Pacey, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years.
Two-year-olds are busy. They are into everything and learning loads. Some days it can seem as if they never stop. This can be exhausting, especially if you have other kids or a baby too. If you need a break to get some headspace, time for yourself, catch up with jobs around the house or make the first steps towards getting back to work or returning to studying, then it’s worth checking if you are eligible for government funding to pay for childcare.
What is this funding for childcare?
The government funds 570 hours per year of early years education for 2 year olds if families already receive some level of government support. This usually means 15 hours a week during term time (38 weeks per year).
Which childcare is included?
You can choose day nurseries, childminders, nurseries within children’s centres or pre-schools. Check with your local family information service or search in your area on PACEY’s online SearchChildcare. Not all providers will offer access to 2-year-old funding, so check with them first.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
Childminders, nurseries and pre-schools can check for you. Ask if you’re not sure. Each local authority has someone who can tell you if you’re eligible as well as an online eligibility checker. If you get any of these government benefits, you can apply.
What if I need more hours than 15 each week or I need time during school holidays?
You can pay for extra hours, and some childcare providers will stretch the funding so you can have fewer hours each week but for more weeks. As long as it adds up to 570 hours per year, it’s fine.
Will there be any extra costs?
You may be asked to pay for extras such as meals, nappies or trips. Discuss this with them at the start.
Can I use the time while my 2-year-old is in childcare to put my feet up?
You can use the time to do whatever benefits you and your family the most. If that means having a rest so that you’re better able to take care of them, then you can do that. Other things parents might do when their child is in childcare is to catch up with housework, cooking or shopping, spend time with any other children or babies, do voluntary work or get involved in a community project, do some studying or start to apply for jobs.
I’d like to work in childcare. Can my 2 year old come with me and still get funding?
Yes, if you chose to work in pre-schools and nurseries, however if you chose to work as a childminder you cannot claim funding for your own child.
My 2 year old isn’t ready for childcare yet. Can I get the funding for my child to be looked after by their grandparent, our neighbour or a friend?
The funding is only available through registered childcare providers, so if your neighbour or friend is registered then yes that’s fine. Grandparents who are registered are not able to deliver the 2 year old offer to related children.
I’m not sure about sending my child off to childcare. Where do I even start looking?
Making a decision about trying childcare for your child can be daunting, and with all the different options it can be hard to know where to start. But there are people available to help. You can talk it all through with your health visitor or with someone at your local children’s centre or family information service.
When you’re ready to choose a childcare provider, visit a few different settings, watch what the children are doing and ask lots of questions. The provider will want you to be confident you are making the right decision and will do all they can to reassure you. They will also have a settling-in process, so you can build up the time your child spends there gradually.
This post is part of our ‘Together For Twos’ Day, a whole day dedicated to the 2-year-old funding. For more info on the funding go to https://www.pacey.org.uk/working-in-childcare/spotlight-on/2-year-olds/.
And if you want to find out more about finding childcare, PACEY has lots of information on their website to help you choose childcare for your child.
Also, check out Carly’s Story. She is a single mum of three children and she is determined to get off benefits. The funding for 2 year olds is helping her think about how she can best do that for her family.
Pacey experts will be on our Facebook Live on Thursday 3rd October at 11am to answer any questions you may have. The recording will stay on our Facebook Page for you to watch any time.