Help with childcare costs

Free education and childcare for 2 year-olds

Parents and carers with a 2 year-old child may be eligible for 570 hours of free childcare a year during school term time. It's usually taken as 15 hours a week over the 38 weeks of school term time, but your childcare provider may allow you to take fewer hours over more weeks.

You can only use this free childcare with approved childcare providers that are registered with Ofsted – go to finding and choosing childcare for more details.


Your 2 year-old child can get free childcare if you get any of the following benefits:

  • 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
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, or both, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run-on – that is, the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

2 year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

If you're a non-UK citizen in Thurrock who cannot claim benefits – that is, your immigration status says you have 'no recourse to public funds' – you may still get free childcare for your 2-year-old if:

  • your household income is no more than £26,500 for families with 1 child
  • your household income is no more than £30,600 for families with 2 or more children
  • you do not have more than £16,000 in savings or investments

The table below shows when you can claim free childcare after your child's 2nd birthday.

Your child's birthday Start getting free hours Best time to apply
1 January to 31 March Summer term, from April 15 January to 28 February
1 April to 31 August Autumn term, from September 15 June to 31 July
1 September to 31 December Spring term, from January 15 October to 30 November

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

Apply for free childcare

You must apply online to get free childcare for 2 year-olds.

The application must be made using an account for the parent or carer who receives the eligible benefit. To create a new account, use the link below and select 'create an account’. You cannot login using any accounts you may already have for other Thurrock Council services.

Free childcare for 2 year-olds application

If we need to receive evidence that shows you are eligible, a member of our team will contact you. They will explain what we need and discuss how you can provide it to us.