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Supporting disadvantaged families through free early education and childcare entitlements

This study is part of the National Audit Office’s programme of work on services for children. It will focus on whether the Department for Education supports disadvantaged families and children effectively through the provision of entitlements to free early education and childcare. The study will cover the three entitlements funded by the Department for Education − for disadvantaged 2-year-olds, plus universal and extended entitlements for 3- and 4-year-olds. The study will not cover childcare schemes provided through other government departments, such as tax-free childcare.

The study will examine: whether disadvantaged families are accessing free early education and childcare; whether the supply of high-quality free early education and childcare is sufficient to meet need in disadvantaged areas; and whether families and children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, are benefiting from free early education and childcare.

If you would like to provide evidence for our study please email the study team on, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly. If you need to raise a concern please use our contact form.