If you're the parent or carer of a two year old and you receive certain benefits you could be eligible to apply for a free early education place.

Apply

The quickest way to apply is online. You'll need a parent or carer's National Insurance number.

Apply for your place online

Other ways to apply
Contact your local Children's Centre, who can help you apply.

Who can apply?

Your 2-year-old can get free childcare if you live in England and get one 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
  • child 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)

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

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have a statement of special education needs (SEN) or 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
  • have a child protection plan
  • are a member of a travelling family

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

If you're a non- UK citizen who cannot claim benefits

If your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds', you may still get free childcare for your 2-year-old.

You must live in England and your household income must be no more than:

  • £26,500 for families with one child
  • £30,600 for families with two or more children

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.

If you have no recourse to public funds and have an income below the earnings thresholds:

Your local children’s centre will help you to complete and return the form if you need them to.

What you will get

Your child will receive 570 hours free early education over a year.  This is equal to 15 hours a week during term time (38 weeks a year) or 12 hours a week all year round (47.5 weeks a year).

There is some flexibility with how the hours are used, but they can only be used for a maximum of 10 hours a day.

Your child can start in their free place from the term after their second birthday.  

Funding is available for a range of early years providers, including Children's Centres, nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups and childminders.

Benefits of early years education

Research has shown that good quality early education can improve childrens' social and emotional development, as well as their language and communication skills.  The children also get to have fun and make lots of friends, through a wide range of experiences.