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Free/funded childcare for your 2 year old

If you are a working family, you could get 15 hours of free/funded childcare per week.

This is for 38 weeks of the year (during school term time). You may be able to get free/funded childcare for more weeks if you use fewer than 15 hours per week. Check with your childcare provider to find out if this is something they offer.

Am I eligible?

Your eligibility depends on:

  • whether you’re working (employed, self-employed, or a director)
  • your income (and your partner’s income, if you have one)
  • your child’s age
  • your immigration status

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn:

  • on average at least 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage each
  • less than £100,000 a year each.

In a two-parent household:

  • both parents must meet the requirements relating to employment and earnings,
  • only one parent needs to meet the residence requirement

You may be eligible if you, or your partner, are on:

  • maternity, paternity, or adoption leave.

You can still get 15 hours free/funded childcare at the same time as claiming:

  • Universal Credit, (if your family take home is £15,400 or less you may be better applying for the other 2 year funding)
  • Tax Credits,
  • Childcare Vouchers
  • Tax-Free Childcare

You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get:

  • Incapacity Benefit,
  • Severe Disablement Allowance,
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance

If you foster your child, speak to your social worker and the early years funding team (020 8583 6421)

If you do not qualify for this offer, your 2 year old may be able to get 15 hours of funded childcare if your family receives additional government support.

When can I access 15 hours?

Children become eligible from the term after turning 2 years old and a parent has successfully applied and received a code, whichever is later.

Funding can start:

  • From 1 April - for applications made between 1 January - 31 March
  • From 1 September - for applications made between 1 April - 31 August
  • From 1 January  - for applications made between  1 September - 31 December

Need help applying?

You must apply through the Government’s digital childcare service. If you can't do this, call the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097

What isn't covered by the 15 hours free and funded childcare?

The free childcare entitlements are not intended to cover the costs of

  • meals or snacks
  • other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream),
  • extra hours or activities (such as trips).

Providers may charge a fee for these additions. Discuss with your childcare provider if you unable to pay these costs. Charges should not be a condition of accessing a free place.

The expansion of free/funded childcare between 2024 and 2025

By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.

 The changes are being introduced gradually to make sure that providers can meet the needs of more families. This means that:

  • From April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours childcare support.
  • From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3-year-olds.
  • From September 2025, working parents of children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week.
For more information and other childcare support offers, visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk