Free childcare for 2 year-olds

Online school admissions, free school meals and 2 year-old childcare, 30 September

Our online services for school admissions, free school meals and free 2 year-old childcare will be unavailable between 8am and 6pm on Thursday 30 September due to essential maintenance work. Please do not try to use the services on this day. We apologise for any inconvenience.


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 after tax is £15,400 a year or less, 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
  • 'no recourse to public funds' because of your immigration status – or lack of immigration status – and get support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989
  • the right to live in the UK because you are the main carer of a British citizen – known as a Zambrano Carer

'No recourse to public funds' can mean, for example, you cannot claim benefits.

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

If you are eligible, you can apply for free childcare for 2 year-olds.

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