Early years education available for two-year-​olds in NRPF households 

4 September 2019

Government extends eligibility for funded childcare 

The Government has extended eligibility for the free early education entitlement for two-year-old children in England to include children in families where the parents have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). 

The Department of Education (DfE) and Local Government Association (LGA) have produced guidance for local authorities, which is being trialled until 30 November 2019 and will be reviewed to take into account any feedback received.

Two-year-old children in low income families will now be able to access this provision when their parent(s) have one of the following types of immigration status: 

  • Zambrano carer (derivative right to reside in the UK under European law as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult) 
  • Leave to remain with NRPF granted on family or private life (Article 8) grounds 
  • ‘Appeal rights exhausted’ (ARE) asylum seeker receiving asylum support from the Home Office under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 
Parents, who are Zambrano carers or who have leave to remain with NRPF, must also be able to demonstrate that they have a low income. The guidance states:

'Although Zambrano Carers have no recourse to public funds they are allowed to work. Families granted immigration leave on the basis of Article 8 with no recourse to public funds are also entitled to work. In both cases the parent or carer (and their partner if they have one) must meet the income threshold (£15,400) to be eligible for a free place for their two year old.' 

Commentary
In most cases, two-year-old children will only be eligible for a funded early years place when parents are in receipt of certain benefits. This has meant that parents with NRPF, who are excluded from claiming benefits by their immigration status, have been un​able to access free childcare for two-year-old children. 

This is a positive change which will enable two-year old children in low-income NRPF households to benefit from early years education.  Widening access to funded childcare places may also help to reduce the risk of families experiencing destitution or homelessness, as the lack of free childcare is often a barrier to a parent being able to work.

However, the changes only apply to certain groups of people who have NRPF, so not all two-year-old children living in NRPF families will be able to access free early years education. Additionally, the extended 30 hours of funded childcare for 3 and 4 year olds remains unavailable to families where a single parent or both parents have leave to remain with NRPF, so parents will still experience long-term challenges earning enough from employment to cover their family's living and housing costs. No changes have been made to the groups that are entitled to free school meals, which many children in NRPF families are unable to access when these are not universally funded. We provide further information here​ 

What local authorities can do
The DfE guidance states:

‘We expect the numbers of these two year olds to be small. We do not expect local authorities to undertake outreach work to identify these children but where children in these circumstances come to the attention of the local authority they should be funded for a free place if their parents want one.’​

Any NRPF families that are being provided with accommodation and financial support by a local authority​, and include two-year-old children who will benefit from the new policy, should be identified and assisted to apply for a childcare place if they want to access this. Social services or the NRPF service would need to provide a letter confirming evidence of any financial support that is being provided. 

Eligible families should also be informed of the entitlement when they approach social services or other council departments. Although local authorities are not required to proactively identify affected children in their communities, taking steps to ensure families are aware of their entitlement may help to reduce child poverty, homelessness and inequalities. 

Local authorities are encouraged to provide feedback on the guidance and may either contact us to contribute to our submission or send comments directly to DfE (see the guidance for contact details).

Further information