Free/funded education and childcare for 2 year olds if you claim certain benefits

Children are eligible from the term after turning 2 years old and a parent has successfully applied and received a code. 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.

If you are not eligible for free/funded childcare for parents getting benefits

You may be eligible to get free/funded childcare if you are working under a separate scheme.

If you are getting any of the following...

  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • Universal Credit and not working
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • Your incomes is £16,190 a year or less, and you
    • are in receipt of child tax credit, working tax credit (or both)
    • are in receipt of the working tax credit 4 week run on

You will need to:

  • create an account
  • have your national insurance number or National Asylum Seeker Service NASS number

A step by step guide is available to assist you 

Not getting any of the above benefits. You may still qualify if you meet one of the following

Your child has a special educational need or a disability and has:

Your child is adopted or in foster care and:
  • is looked after by the local authority
  • has left care under a special guardianship order
  • has a child arrangement order
  • has an adoption order

If you’re a non- UK citizen who cannot claim benefits
If your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’, you may still get free/funded childcare for your 2-year-old. Your household income after tax must be no more than:
  • £34,500 for families with one child
  • £38,600 for families with two or more children
You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.

You can also get free/funded childcare if you have claimed asylum and you receive asylum support. This means:

  • you are waiting for a decision for your asylum claim
  • you have ‘leave to remain’ (temporary immigration status) with the NRPF condition on grounds of family or private life
  • you have the right to live in the UK because you are the main carer of a British citizen known as a “Zambrano carer”
If any of the above apply to you, please call 020 8583 6421 or email

What isn't covered by the free/funded 15 hours

The free/funded 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.

Please note, the entitlement to a free/funded place does not offer a guarantee of a place at your preferred provider.

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