ELC for two year old children

Please note that the ELC expansion has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Please visit the Parent Club for the latest news and answers to some of the questions you might have.

We know that high quality early learning and childcare (ELC) can make a huge difference to children’s lives, particularly when they are growing up in more disadvantaged circumstances.

That is why we offer funded ELC to two year olds who are most likely to benefit from early access.

This includes all looked after children and children whose family receive a qualifying benefit, which is around a quarter of the two year old population.

Increasing uptake and awareness

We are working with local authorities and others to increase awareness and uptake of the two year old offer, and improving information available to parents and carers.

For example, we provide information and advice about ELC options on the Parent Club website.

And the Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative is testing approaches to improving the uptake of funded ELC for eligible two year olds.

To inform our work in this area, we commissioned research on the drivers and barriers to uptake amongst two year olds.


Prior to 2014, three and four year olds were entitled to 475 hours per year of free pre-school education.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 extended provision to 600 hours for all three and four year olds and for two year olds who were looked after (including those in kinship care) and those whose parents were in receipt of out of work benefits.

From August 2015, we extended provision for two year olds further to those whose families meet the eligibility criteria for free school meals.

From August 2021, we extended the entitlement from 600 to 1,140 hours per year.

If you are a parent or carer you can get information on early learning and childcare at: https://www.mygov.scot/childcare-costs-help/ and https://www.parentclub.scot/


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