Information for families in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Two-year-olds for working families (new entitlement from April 2024)

Currently eligible working parents of three and four-year-olds can access up to 30 hours a week of funded childcare. From April 2024, the early education entitlement will be expanded for working families of younger children so they can access up to 15 hours per week.


Your child will be entitled to funded hours from the funding term after both of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • Your child has reached the age of two
  • You have a current confirmation of eligibility from HMRC

The eligibility criteria can be viewed on the government's childcare service website.

How to apply

Applications for working parents of 2-year-olds eligible from 1 April 2024 will be accepted from 2nd January 2024 on the Childcare Choices website.

If the application is approved, parents will be given an 11 digit code by HMRC via the Childcare Service.

You must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months even if you haven't started claiming.

You should apply for 30 hours childcare and get your code the term before you wish to claim your child’s place. This code must be given to your childcare provider.

 When your child reaches the   relevant age

 When they can get   funded hours from

 Recommended time to apply

 1 September to 31 December

 Term starting on or   after 1 January

 15 October to 30 November

 1 January to 31 March

 Term starting on or   after 1 April

 15 January to 28 February

 1 April to 31 August

 Term starting on or   after 1 September

 15 June to 31 July

You can apply outside of these recommended dates but you might not receive your code in time. If you apply more than three months before the term starts, you’ll have to reconfirm your eligibility in your account in order to keep your code valid.

If you become eligible for funded hours part-way through the term, you can start claiming the additional hours from the funding period after you got your code.

HMRC are responsible for checking whether a parent is eligible and issuing the 11 digit code. This is not done via childcare providers or BCP Council, nor do BCP Council use any discretion to overrule entitlement decisions made via the HMRC Childcare Service (eg late applications).

How to contact the HMRC Childcare Service helpline

Contact the HMRC Childcare Service helpline if you need help with:

  • applying for an eligibility code
  • using your childcare account

Telephone: 0300 123 4097

Textphone: 0300 123 9232

The phone line opening hours are:

Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Can I access the 2-year-olds for working families for a child I foster?

Foster carers may be eligible for the Expanded Entitlements for children who they foster, where the foster parent(s) are engaged in paid work outside of their fostering responsibilities. Foster parents should contact their social worker to enquire about this.