Skip to main content

15 hours free early learning for 2-year-olds

Is your family living on a low income or claiming income based benefits? Does your two year old have additional needs, or have they left care? You may be entitled to claim free childcare up to a maximum of 15 hours during term time, or 11 hours per week throughout the year.

Every eligible child will be given the opportunity to experience high quality early years’ education with the support of a trained, high quality registered childminder, nursery, children’s centre or pre-school.  The aim of the programme is to enable your child to receive high quality early education that will help them to be school ready. 

Please have a look at the content sections and the information video below for further details:

(You can also access a subtitled version of the video in: AlbanianArabicFrenchPortugueseSomaliSpanishTigrinya)

Who is eligible?

When a child reaches age 2, they may be eligible for 15 hours of funded early education for 38 weeks of the year (term time), if parents already receive some level of government support. Families with a 2-year-old who meet the following criteria are eligible for the free places.

If families claim any one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if they and their partner have a combined income from work of £15,400 or less a year, after tax
  • tax credits and they have an income of £16,190 or less a year, 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 given when someone stops 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.

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

When will my child/children be eligible for their free place?

This entitlement is available in the term after an eligible child’s 2nd birthday.  You should be able to keep your child at your preferred provider until they can access a school place, normally in the September after their 3rd birthday.  Your entitlement will continue to be free regardless of whether your family’s financial circumstances change.

This entitlement is available in the term after an eligible child’s 2nd birthday. You should be able to keep your child at your preferred provider until they can access a school place (normally in the September following their 3rd birthday). Your entitlement will continue to be free regardless of whether your family’s financial circumstances change.

Child’s second birthday falls between:


They will be entitled to their free place from:

Parents can contact their borough to apply for a places from:

1 April and 31 August

The start of the Autumn term in September

From April


1 September and 31 December

The start of the Spring term in January

From September 

1 January and 31 March

The start of the Summer term in April

From January


How can I apply?

Register online and apply for Free Early Learning for your 2 year olds 

When your child is 20 months you can now complete your two year old funding request using our online application form. This is the quickest and clearest way to ensure your information is received by the Bi-Borough Childcare and Early Education Service.

This information will be used to check if your child is eligible for a free place.  If you are eligible, you will be notified and allocated a place. If you are not already registered, this information will also be used to register your family with your local children’s centre. This ensures that you are kept informed of local services that can benefit your family.

If you have any difficulty completing the form, you can get help from your local children's centre. Alternatively, you can get assistance from the Family Information Service by emailing; or by calling 07814 804262.

Early Years providers offering 15 hours free education and childcare for 2-year-olds

Please find a list of Early Years Providers offering 15 hours free education and childcare for 2-year-olds:

Funded places for 2-year-olds

Last Updated 14/10/2021

Share your feedback on this page

Please provide feedback on our website. Try to include any constructive suggestions for improvements and we will do our best to incorporate them.

rating button