Free childcare for 2 year olds

Childcare for 2 year olds is changing!

From April 2024 working families who do not fit the criteria below may be able to access 15 hours of funded childcare support. Find out more at

Free Childcare for 2 year olds Eligibility Criteria

    Parents or carers of two year olds who meet the criteria can apply for a free early learning place to fund childcare sessions for up to 15 hours per week, if you receive one of the following eligible benefits:

    • 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 Credits)

    If you do not receive any of the above eligible benefits, you can also apply for 2-year-old funding if your child:

    1. is looked after by a local authority
    2. have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
    3. receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
    4. have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order
    5. if you’re a non-UK citizen who cannot claim benefits or if your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’. *

    If you are applying under 1 to 5 do not apply online, please complete this online form and be ready to upload your supporting documents. If you need help with completing the online form please take your supporting documents to your nearest Children's Centre.

    Supporting documents could be:

    • a pay slip
    • a court order documentation
    • a letter confirming an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is in place
    • a letter confirming a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) award

    *You must live in England and your household income must be no more than:

    • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
    • £34,500 for families within London with one child
    • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children
    • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children

    You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.

    How do I apply?

    Its quick and easy to apply online

    • Click the purple 'apply online' box below this section, which prompts you to create a 'Parent Portal' account.
    • Follow the online instructions, you'll need to add details for you and your child.
    • If you are eligible the system will give you a 6 digit code. Keep this safe.
    • It is important that you remember the email and password that you use, as you will need to log back into your 'Parent Portal' account if you forget your eligibility code.

    At what age is 2 year old funding available?

    • children born between 1 January and 31 March are eligible from the Summer term after Easter holidays (April)
    • children born between 1 April and 31 August are eligible from the Autumn term (September)
    • children born between 1 September and 31 December are eligible from the Spring term (January)

    What isn't covered?

    Please make sure you are aware of any additional charges before your child attends your chosen childcare provider. The 15 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips).

    Providers may charge a fee for these additions. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hour place, and must be offered alternative options. If you choose to pay for these, it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider.