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Free early learning for 2-year-olds

If you have a two-year-old and are on a low household income, you may be entitled to receive 15 hours free childcare a week (total 570 hours a year), 38 weeks of the year. 

If you meet the qualifying criteria below, your child will become eligible from the term after their second birthday.

A child born between:

Is eligible from:

1 January - 31 March

1 April - Summer Term

1 April - 31 August

1 September - Autumn Term

1 September - 31 December

1 January - Spring Term

Who is eligible?

Two-year-olds can get free childcare if you live in England and get one of the following benefit:

• Income Support
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
• Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
• tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
• the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
• the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Two-year-olds are also eligible for 15 hours of free early years provision if they meet one of the following:

• are looked after by a local authority
• have a statement of Special Education Needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
• get Disability Living Allowance
• have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits your two-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

• claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
• been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A two-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have any of the following:

• leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
• support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan
• the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)

Click here to check if you qualify  

H&F will manage any data submitted when you apply for free early learning for 2 year olds. Please see the H&F privacy policy here.

For more information please contact Family Information Service at

Find out more about free early education and childcare on GOV.UK



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