Free early education and childcare for two year olds

What is free early education and childcare?

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

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

Is it really free?

Yes. 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 combine the free hours with additional paid-for childcare to meet your working pattern or family commitments. You would need to pay for the additional hours.

Is my child eligible for a free place?

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 
  • Disability Living Allowance (for the child not yourself).

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

Which different providers are available?

Primary/nursery schools

Most schools offer either a morning or afternoon places, however some can be more flexible with hours. Some schools can offer extra hours at an extra charge. It is worth knowing that having a place in a school nursery or pre-school will not guarantee you a place in that schools reception and you need to apply separately for this

Pre-schools

Pre-schools are often found in community venues such as church halls and community centres. They take children between the ages of 2 to 5. They traditionally run in the morning and / or afternoon, during the school term time. However some offer longer hours with families being able to pay for extra time so children can stay all day.

Private day nurseries

Day nurseries provide take children from 0 to 5 years old. Some can also give care for older children by offering after school and holiday care. Opening times vary but these tend to be between 8am to 6pm. They are open for most of the year and are able to offer free places quite flexibly either term time only or over a couple of longer days and in the school holidays too. Some day nurseries are based in or managed by a Children's Centre.

Childminders

Childminders work in their own home. They can care for babies up to eight year old. Some can also give care for older children by offering after school and holiday care. Opening times vary but these tend to be between 8am to 6pm. They are open for most of the year and are able to offer free places quite flexibly. Childminders offer a range of activities and outings and may attend local groups so your child can socialise with others their age. Some childminders work with assistants too.

If you would more information or for us to send you a free list of suitable childcare in your area please contact Bradford Families Information Service