Funded 2 year old play & learn places.

Funded two-year-old play & learn places


We have a limited number of free places for eligible 2 year olds.


If you qualify sessions are available the term after your child’s 2nd Birthday

Eligible children receive 15 hours a week - term time only and the sessions run 9am-2pm over 3 days.


If you have recieved a golden ticket your child will be eligible.


If you have not recieved a golden ticket you can check eligibility by accessing the parent portal on County Durhams family information services.

To qualify for Free Play and Learn for two year olds, parents/carers must have completed an application which has then been approved by us either via a Golden Ticket, a letter from our Childcare Places Team, or a six digit reference number obtained via the Durham County Council Parent Portal. Before claiming funding, providers need to witness evidence of a successful application from parents/carers.

A child will be entitled to the funding from the term after their second birthday if the child or parent meets the eligibility criteria outlined below:

A two year old can get free play and learn sessions if they live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
  • Tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they’re looked after by a local council
  • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order.

Eligible children can be offered up to 570 hours of free Play and Learn sessions in a year and this is usually taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. If you would like to claim for fewer hours over more weeks (ie “stretch” the entitlement) please contact the Early Years Funding Team. 



From September 2017, the Department for Education rolls out a new policy of extended entitlement of up to 30 hours funded childcare for eligible children aged three and four.

A child is eligible from the term that begins following their third birthday if the child’s parent(s) meets the eligibility criteria set out below:

  • The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the funded childcare to enable them to work.
  • The parent of the child (and their partner where applicable) should also be in qualifying paid work. Each parent or the single parent in a lone parent household will need to expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or their national minimum wage rate over the forthcoming quarter.
  • Where one or both parents are in receipt of benefits in connection with sickness or parenting, they are treated as though they are in paid work.
  • Where one parent (in a couple household) is in receipt or could be entitled to be in receipt of specific benefits related to caring, incapacity for work or limited capability for work that they are treated as though they are in paid work;
    where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’, (ie they are newly self-employed), they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for twelve months in order to qualify for the extended entitlement.
  • If either or both parents’ income exceeds £100,000 they will not be eligible for the extended entitlement.







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