Free Early Education and Childcare for 2 Year Olds

Did you know that some children who are aged two years of age can access 15 hours of free early education and childcare?

Currently the criteria for 2-year-olds in England to get free early education and Childcare is the following:

All two years old who are looked after by the Local Authority (LA)

The parent must meet at least one of the National Criteria:

The National Criteria is:

  • Income Support and/or
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and/or
  • Child Tax Credit, and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and/or
  • The ‘Guarantee’ element of State Pension Credit and/or
  • Have asylum seeker status and be receiving support from their LA under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and/or
  • Working Tax credits and have annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year and/or
  • Universal Credit and the family net earned annual income is equivalent to and not more than £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods

Or the child must:

  • The Child be a looked after child/in foster care
  • If the child has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan
  • If the child is eligible for Disability Living Allowance;
  • If the child has left care in England and Wales through special guardianship, child arrangements order or through an adoption order

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

Your 2-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 2-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 either:

If your child’s eligible, you can start claiming free early education after your child turns 2. The date you can apply will depend on when their birthday is as proof of eligibility only lasts for two months from the day of application. 

A Child turns 2 in the period

Application period

Will become eligible for a 2yr funded place

1st April to 31st August

1st July -31st August

1st September (Autumn Term)

1st Sept to 31st Dec

1st Nov – 31st Dec

1st January (Spring Term)

1st Jan to 31st March

1st Feb – 31st March

1st April (Summer Term)

To find out if your child is eligible please complete an application form which you can do online at the link below

Two year old free childcare application

Alternatively you can gain support at your local Start Well Family Centre.

 To find out where nearest centre is located please click on the following link:-

Find my nearest Start Well Family Centre

Alternatively contact the Family Information Service Contact Centre on


Telephone: 01942 404364

For Free Early Education and Childcare for Three and Four Year Olds

Free Early Education and Childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

Alternatively contact the Family Information Service Contact Centre on


Telephone: 01942 404364


Page last reviewed: 03/08/2023

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