Free childcare for 2 year-olds

Overview

The 2 year-olds' entitlement scheme is for children whose parents or carers have a low income.

If you are eligible, we will pay early education and childcare costs for up to 15 hours a week during term-time, or for fewer hours each week but for more weeks of the year.

You are eligible if you receive one of the following:

  • 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 Credit

You are also eligible if your 2 year-old child:

  • has an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • gets Disability Living Allowance
  • is looked after by the council
  • has left care under an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order

If you're not a European Economic Area (EEA) citizen and you cannot claim benefits but you get support through the Immigration and Asylum Act, you may be eligible if you 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'

If you are the carer of a 2 year-old child, you may be eligible if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

  • leave to remain in the UK with 'no recourse to public funds' on family or private life grounds under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • the right to live in the UK because you are the main carer of a British citizen – known as a Zambrano Carer

You may only use this funding with approved Ofsted-registered childcare providers, which includes child minders.

This scheme is not intended to cover the costs of:

  • meals
  • buying items – for example, nappies or sun cream
  • activities – for example, day trips
  • additional hours

A video shows why childminders are vitally important providers for 2 year-olds.