Free childcare places for eligible two year olds

Check if you qualify

Families earning less than £16,190, with a two-year-old, could get up to 15 hours of free childcare per week at a day nursery, pre-school, childminder or in some school’s nursery class.

You can now apply for Two-Year-Old funding (locally known as Me2) directly via the Citizen’s Portal. You can also apply for a school place for your child via this portal. There is guidance on the portal to help you complete your application.

Criteria

Your 2-year-old can get free early education and 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 - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they’re looked after by a local council
  • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
  • Children of Zambrano Carers
  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private/family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’)

If you’re eligible the free early education and childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider
  • starts from the term after your child’s 2nd birthday

Please note: Unfortunately we are unable to fund Tier 4 International Students with no Recourse to Public Funds unless sufficient evidence is provided to support an application from a Professional referral.

The 15 hours must be used over at least two days each week and parents/carers can use a maximum of 10 hours a day between 8am and 6pm.

Child's birthday When you can claim
1 January to 31 March The beginning of term on or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August The beginning of term on or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December The beginning of term on or after 1 January

If they're eligible, your child can claim a free place from the beginning of the term after they become two years old.

Find out if you are eligible

To find out if you can get free childcare for your two-year-old child you can:

 Complete the Me2 Funding Request Form [PDF, 117KB]

For income-related enquiries, details will be checked against the official Department for Works and Pensions secure online tool and a limited HMRC service. A letter will be sent to the parent/carer confirming eligibility and this letter can be presented at your childcare provision as proof of eligibility.

For more information about free childcare and finding registered childcare providers in your area use our childcare finder.