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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.

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