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Early learning and childcare can help young children gain and develop vital language and communication skills. It can support them to grow in confidence and develop creativity and curiosity as well contributing to their sense of self and to their social development

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

Eligible criteria

From August 2021, children aged two years or over who meet the following criteria are eligible for 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare:

  • looked after by a local council – contact details of a lead professional is required to complete a supported application
  • in kinship care – contact details of a lead professional is required to complete a supported application
  • have a parent appointed guardian – contact details of a lead professional is required to complete a supported application
  • the child has a care experienced parent (a parent who has previously been looked after by a local council, been subject of a kinship care order or had a parent appointed guardian) – for this criteria to be checked we will need:
    • details of the local authority where you lived when you first became care experienced
    • contact details of a health visitor or lead professional – this will be checked by our Health and Social Care Partnership colleagues with no information shared other than if you meet the criteria or not
  • children aged two years old from households where a parent or carer is in receipt of the benefits listed below from the term after their second birthday

Eligible benefits

Eligible benefits are:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income based)
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you receive tax credits or Universal Credit, then you can earn a certain amount of money and still be eligible. These income thresholds change annually.

From 1 April 2024 if you are on Child Tax Credit:

  • but not Working Tax Credit, then your earnings can be £19,995 or less
  • and Working Tax Credit then your earnings can be £9,552 or less 

If you are on Universal Credit then your household take-home pay can be £796 per month or less.

Financial Inclusion Team 

The Financial Inclusion Team (FIT) provide residents in East Ayrshire with information, advice and support relating to welfare rights, maximising incomes. Looking at benefit entitlement, debts, gas/electricity arrears, affordable money services, rent arrears and more.

Your child's school has a dedicated Financial Inclusion Adviser who may be able to support and identify entitlements, providing a free and confidential service.

Contact information for your adviser can be obtained through your school, or alternatively by contacting:

Start dates

Applications should only be made three months before the eligible term, for example children eligible for August should only submit an application from the end of May onwards.

Any applications received after the meeting has taken place may not be considered until the next meeting date.

If you apply prior to three month before your child is eligible your application may be declined and you will be advised to reapply.

Start dates information
BirthdayWhen you can applyStart monthTermApplications considered
1 March to 31 August 31 May to 24 July August Autumn July
1 September to 31 December 30 September to 24 November January Spring November
1 January to last day of February 31 December to 24 February April Summer March

Where the service is available

A list of centres offering eligible two year old places can be found in A Guide to Early Learning and Childcare.

How to apply

  • Apply online – the link below will take you to our customer account login page where you will be prompted to create an account or log in
  • Complete the application form (checking your child's birth date against the when can I apply column above)
  • If you have difficulty completing the online form, an early years colleague can assist with this – please email details to including:
    • your contact information (telephone number)
    • the form you are having difficulty completing

Apply for two year old place

You will be notified by email if your application is successful and what establishment has a place available.

Please note that it will not always be possible to allocate a place in your first choice of centre. 

Contact Information

Early Learning and Childcare
Telephone:07385 394774
Telephone:07741 134679