If you think you're eligible, you need to apply online. You can start applying around your child's 2nd birthday:
|If your child turns 2 between...||You can apply from...|
1 January – 31 March
1 April – 31 August
1 September – 31 December
- your National Insurance/NASS number
- your child's NHS number (check your red book or ask your GP)
If you're eligible, we'll send you a reference code to use when you contact childcare providers.
Your 2 year old can get 570 hours of free early education per year If you receive one of these benefits. That’s 15 hours per week if Term time only.
- Universal Credit – if you and your partner have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
- If you and your partner have a combined income of £16,190 a year and are in receipt of Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit, but not both at the same time
- The Working Tax Credit 4 week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Income support
- Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.
- Zambrano carers and those with an immigration status stating “No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF) are subject to the following maximum household income criteria:
- £26,500 for families with one child
- £30,600 for families with two or more children
- a maximum of £16,000 in savings or investments.
More information about Zambrano cases (GOV.UK).
Contribution based JSA/ESA is not a qualifying benefit.
Your 2 year old can also get 570 hours free early education a year if they:
- are looked after by a local authority
- have a current statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
- have left care through a special guardianship or an adoption or child arrangement order
- get disability living allowance.
That's 15 hours per week if term time only.
Visit gov.uk for the more details of who's eligible.
Find an approved childcare provider offering free early education for 2 year olds, in our childcare directory:
How to choose a provider and use your hours - find out:
• the differences between each type of provider
• different ways to spread your hours
• what information providers should give you up-front.
Contact a provider with your reference code, let them know when you'd like to start and see if they have any available places.
Your free hours won't decrease or stop, even if your circumstances change.
Find out what your child is entitled to when they turn 3.