Free Nursery Entitlement for 2, 3 and 4 Year Olds

Free childcare for 2 year olds

Children from households receiving certain benefits might be entitled to free childcare for 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year. The childcare places are only available from approved childcare providers who have been judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or better. Although free places for 2 year olds are limited, all 3 and 4 year olds become eligible for free early learning places from the school term after their third birthday.



You need to be in receipt of one of the following benefits for your 2 year old to be eligible:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit/Working Tax Credit and your annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) does not exceed £16,190
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit

Your two year old will also be eligible for free childcare if they have been adopted from local authority or international care.


How does it work

Children who are eligible can receive free childcare from the start of the school term after their second birthday. The hours can be taken as 15 hours a week, every week, during school term time. In some childcare settings the free hours can be spread more evenly throughout the year (less hours a week over more weeks, up to a maximum of 570 hours a year).


How do you apply

To find out if your child is eligible please contact your local Children’s Centre – the staff will need your National Insurance number to carry out an eligibility check. If eligible you will need to confirm your identity and will be required to provide a form of photo identification such as a passport or driving licence.

Free childcare for 3 – 4 year olds

Every 3 – 4 year old child is entitled up to a maximum of 570 hours *free nursery provision education per year from the term after their third birthday until they start school. These sessions are funded by the Local Authority and may also be subsidised by the care provider. Session can be taken during term time only to a maximum of 15 hours per week or spread over the whole year (50 weeks) to a maximum of 11.4 hours per week.

Extended Funding for 3 – 4 year olds

30 hours free childcare

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England already get 15 hours a week, or 570 hours a year of *free early education. If their parents are living and working in England, 3 and 4-year-olds may be entitled to an extra 15 hours a week *free childcare, so 1140 hours in total. 30 hours free childcare has been available from September 2017.

The eligibility criteria are the same as the ones for Tax-Free Childcare, except you can continue to get these types of support at the same time as 30 hours free childcare:

  • Tax Credits
  • Universal Credit
  • Childcare Vouchers or Salary Sacrifice Schemes
  • Childcare Grants and Bursaries

When you apply, you’ll be confirming that you need childcare so that you and your partner, if you have one, can work. If your child’s already in a full-time reception class in a state funded school, you won’t be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

To qualify for the extra hours you must have applied by midnight prior to the term you child is eligable for funding as detailed in the table below. Please ensure you have applied prior to the cut off dates in the table below to receive funding from the following term.

Child born between Cut Off Date Can receive the funded hours from
1 September to 31 December  31st December January (Spring)
1 January to 31 March  31st March April (Summer)
1 April to 31 August  31st August September (Autumn)

If you are eligible for the extended entitlement of government funded early years education, you will be entitled to access the **extended hours from the beginning of the term following your child’s 3rd birthday. At Wisbech Day Nursery, we want to make sure that families of all attendance types can utilise this funding to its full potential. Therefore, as with our universal funding offers, parents have the opportunity to stretch the funding across 50 weeks per year, or access the funded hours on a term time basis. To ensure flexibility to our families, extra hours can be added onto the Government funded sessions and will be charged at the relevant sessional cost.

For more information about how this scheme works, please speak to Barrie (Director) or Danielle in our Pre-school Room

**Sessions times are at the discretion of Wisbech Day Nursery

(Charges are made for snacks and meals will be made to all government funded sessions)