Free early education and childcare for two year olds

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What is free early education and childcare?

The government funds up to 570 hours of free childcare per year for eligible 2 year olds. This works out as 15 hours a week if your child takes up the childcare during term time, or you could take fewer hours over more weeks in the year.

All eligible two year olds are able to take a place the term after their birthday

Child’s 2nd birthday is between: When you can claim:

1 January to 31 March

the beginning of Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

the beginning of Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

the beginning of Spring term on or after 1 January

Is it really free?

Yes and what's more it's worth almost £3,000 per year!

The childcare setting claims the money from the council for these hours so you don’t have to pay for them.

In some childcare settings it is possible to pay for additional childcare if you need to.

Is my child eligible?

If your child is two you are eligible if you are claiming any one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit with earnings from employment below £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit with earnings from employment are below £16,190
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)

Or if your child:

  • is a looked after child
  • has left care - a child who has left care through a child arrangement order (formerly known as special guardianship) or an adoption or residence order
  • has special educational needs, and/or disabilities - but only if he/she has a current SEN statement or an Education, Health and Care plan or receives Disability Living Allowance.

Check if you are eligible and get a list of your local providers

Where can my child take up a place?

Places are available across the District at nursery schools and many primary schools, pre-schools, nurseries and childminders. If you would like to find a childcare setting, please use our simple childcare finder. You can also contact our Families Information Service using the details on the right-hand side of this page.

Why would I want my child to go?

  • Research shows that good quality childcare from an early age makes a real difference to how well a child does in the future.  
  • It will give your child the chance to make new friends, begin to get ready for school with new activities and improve their language skills.  
  • It will also free up your time for training, hobbies, a break, a part-time job, more hours at work or reduce your childcare bill.

What happens if my circumstances change?

Once your child has started in a 2 year old place they will be able to continue attending even if your circumstances change, for example if you start working or start earning more.

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Contact details

Families Information Service

Telephone helpline : 01274 437503
Polish/Slovak/Czech Helpline : 01274 434905
Urdu/Punjabi Helpline : 01274 431252
Mobile : Text 'Childcare' to 07781472076 and we will call you back within 5 working days
Email :

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