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Are you eligible for Free Childcare for your Two-year old?

Are you eligible for Free Childcare for your Two-year old?

Many 2 year olds can have up to 15 hours a week FREE Childcare in a Family Centre, Day Nursery, Preschool or with a Childminder.

That's FREE childcare  for you to have a break, get a few things done at home, spend time with your other children, study, work or start to look for a job.

What is the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible you must be claiming one of the following:

  •  Income Support
  •  Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  •  Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  •  Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  •  Tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  •  The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit - If you and your partner are on a low income from work (this means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)
  •  Zambrano Parent/Carer (Please note: This cannot be applied for online. You must contact Families Information Service on 0800 0345 340 to arrange to see them in person and for details of the evidence you will need to provide)

 Two year olds are also entitled to a place if:

1: They are looked after by a local council

2: They have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

3: They have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education health and care plan

4: The child has a disability and is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance

Please note: If you are applying under criteria 1, 2, 3 or 4 this would be a “non-economic” application.

  • Select the tick box to which criteria applies to your application
  • A box will then appear for you to provide details of eligibility for your claim, you can attach or upload the evidence such as: relevant letters and paperwork
  • You must then tick the box to confirm that you have and agree to the contents of the application.
  • Click on the Submit button
  • You will be notified by email to check your messages on the portal inbox where you will receive your voucher if successful.


4 Ways to Apply

Applying for FREE Childcare is easy,

1. Scroll to the bottom of the page to the long green button which says "click here to apply" - you will then be taken to the application site, where you will need to sign up for an account. 

2. Telephone us at FIS (Families Information Service) on 0800 0345 340. We can do an application over the phone with you. All you need is your National Insurance number.

3. Email with your name and number and we will call you back as soon as possible. 

4. Message us on Facebook, with your name and number and we will call you back. 

How to apply online

  • Click the button at of the page that says “Apply for Free Childcare”
  • You will need to register for a Parent Portal account before you can apply for 15 hours Childcare, just follow the instructions on the screen.
  • It is important that you remember the email and password that you use because it will be the same account that you use to apply for your child/rens school place.
  • You can call us for support with the application on 0800 0234 340 Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm and on Fridays 9am - 4:30pm 

When do I apply?

The best time to apply is the term in which your child turns 2 years old, or the week when your child has their 2nd birthday.

If you apply too early it will show as 'not found' or 'unsuccessful'.

Why do I need to register for an account?

Once you have created an account you'll use the same one that you use throughout your childs school journey, so you need to remember your log in and password.

All school applications will be made through the account and any other children you have will also need to be added.

It is important that you also use your childs legal name. The one on their birth certificate other than any nicknames or shortened versions of their name that you may use.

This is a secure account and your details will not be shared with any third party.

What do I do if I'm eligble?

  • If you are eligible you will be able to download and/or print the childcare voucher that appears on the screen, you must take this to your childcare provider so that they can claim the funding to pay for your childcare.
  • Or you can email the voucher directly to the childcare setting.

What if it says I'm not Eligible?

Sometimes the system does not recognise that you are eligible straight away. 

This could be because: 

  • You have recently changed address 
  • You have made a change to your Universal Credit Claim

Don't worry you might still be eligible you may need to provide some extra information. Just give us a call on 0800 0345 340 

When can my child start and how is the funding paid?

If your child is eligible the funding will be paid directly to the childcare setting and will depend on when their birthday is.

If your child’s 2nd birthday is between:

1 January to 31 March they can start the beginning of the Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August they can start the beginning of the Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December they can start the beginning of the Spring term on or after 1 January

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ's)

Please keep visiting this section, we will keep adding to the FAQ's information that will be useful.

Question: I’ve just got a job, what happens with my childcare funding?

Answer: Once you have your confirmation email, if your circumstances change you are still entitled to the childcare funding.

Question: I want to move childcare settings, I've found a new setting , What do I do?

Answer: You must let your current childcare provider know that you do not want your child to attend their setting. They should give you back your original confirmation email if they have a copy, this is because it has a unique code on that is attached to your eligibility. You should then pass the confirmation email to the 'new' childcare setting so they can claim the funding to cover your childcare costs.

Question: I want my child to attend all year round not just during term time. Can I do this?

Answer: You should talk to your childcare provider about a 'stretched offer'. This is where you can "stretch" your child’s entitlement by taking less hours a week over more weeks of the year.

Question: Is the funding for the childcare place only?

Answer: The 15 hours of free childcare/early education for 2 year olds is not intended to cover the costs of meals, or extras (such as nappies or sun cream), extra hours or additional activities (such as trips). They may charge a fee for these. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hours place, and must be offered alternative options (extract taken from

Question:  What if I printed my confirmation email but I have lost it?

Answer: If you have lost your email you can log back into your account on the Parent Portal and either print it off again or email it directly to the childcare provider.

Help with Choosing Childcare

Finding good quality childcare can be a hard job for parents. There are different types of childcare and lots of things to look for. If you'd like to talk to someone about your options and find out what childcare's available in your area, Families Information Service can help.

We provide free and impartial information to parents and carers of 0-25 year olds on anything and everything to do with family life, including childcare. We help lots of people looking for childcare in their area and hold information about all Ofsted registered childcare.

Families Information Service can tell you:

  • About the different types of childcare
  • Which childcare is available near to your home or work
  • How to contact different childcare providers
  • About childcare costs
  • What support's available to help with childcare costs
  • Opening times of childcare settings
  • The OFSTED inspection grade of all registered settings

Families Information Service can talk you through  your journey and answer any questions you have.

You can also look for OFSTED registered childcare by using our Family Service Directory.

Families Information Service is completely impartial and never recommends one provider over another. We can't guarantee to find a solution to your childcare needs, but we'll explore every option with you.

Families Information Service sits within BMBC so the service we provide to families is FREE. Contact us by email or by phone 0800 0345 340

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