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Free childcare for 2 year olds

Parents and carers eligibility checker

Check eligibility and apply for a place


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.

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 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.


Guidance from the gov.uk website

Your 2-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you 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 £15,400 or less a year, after tax
  • tax credits and you have an income of £16,190 or less a year, before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 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
  • Children of Zambrano Carers
  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on the grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’).

This guidance from the gov.uk website was current at the time of publishing please refer to the gov.uk website for any updates.


Provider eligibility checker

Childcare provider eligibility checker

Download information for parents on Funded early education

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