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Funded childcare for 2 year olds

A Government funded 2 year old place is available for families in England, receiving some forms of support. Once eligibility is confirmed eligibility will remain until school age even if a families circumstances change.

The eligibility criteria can be found on the government website.

If parents are working and don’t meet the above criteria, they may be eligible for the working entitlement for 2-year-olds. You can find information in the working entitlement section.

Eligible 2 year old children will receive:

  • 15 hours of free childcare or early education for 38 weeks
  • a total of 570 hours per year, which you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
  • some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week

Funded places can be accessed as below;

  • children born in the period 1 January to 31 March - the start of term beginning on or following 1 April after the child’s birthday
  • children born in the period 1 April to 31 August - the start of term beginning on or following 1September after the child’s birthday
  • children born in the period 1 September to 31 December - the start of term beginning on or following 1 January after the child’s birthday

Children can start a funded place from the first day of term until the below headcount date:

  • autumn census - first Thursday in October
  • spring census - third Thursday in January
  • summer census - third Thursday in May

If you have never accessed a funded place before but you have missed the deadline above, speak to your childcare provider to see if they can arrange a late start.

If a child leaves a funded place before the headcount date or starts after the above headcount date the provider may charge the family for the agreed funded hours.

Each application generates a code. You need to take the code to your childcare provider so that they can claim the funding.

If the application says it can’t confirm your eligibility, you should take evidence of your eligibility to your childcare provider and they will let us know that you are eligible. An example of evidence could be a benefits letter or statement.

If you would like support with completing the application, you can ask your childcare provider to do it for you.

If you have any queries about accessing an early education place, email


Check eligibility and apply for a 2 year place with a private nursery or childminder

Check eligibility and apply for a 2 year place in a school nursery

Provider eligibility checker

If you are a private nursery or childminder check a child's eligibility

If you are a school nursery check a child’s eligibility

Download information for parents on funded early education

Page last updated: 9 February 2024

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