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Free Childcare for 2 year olds

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free childcare for 2 year olds

Free childcare is available for eligible 2 year olds, for 15 hours a week during term time.

Your child will have the chance to have fun, play, learn socialise and make new friends.

If your child is eligible, they can take up a place at the start of the term following their second birthday. 

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Is my child eligible?

To access free childcare for 2 year olds, you must be getting one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

2-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have a statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements 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:

  • leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan (families in receipt of support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989)
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a Zambrano Carer’)

If you are not in receipt of one of the above you will not be eligible to apply.

Apply for a 2 year old free childcare place


  To complete an application you will need to provide:

  • Your own name and date of birth
  • Contact details
  • National Insurance Number or National Asylum Seekers Number
  • Child's name and date of birth

If eligible you will be given a code at the end of the online application process  which you should take to your chosen childcare provider.


What if I don't get an online code?

If you complete an online application and don't get a code at the end of the process

email a photo of your most recent benefits statement as proof that you qualify for a free 2 year old childcare place.


When can my child start?

The date you can start a funded place depends on your child's birthday.

   Child's Birthday

When can your child start?

    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

Find a childcare provider

If you are eligible, you will be given a code at the end of the online application process which you can take to any of the approved childcare providers.

Allocation of your 2 year old funded place will only be considered and accepted by the provider once they have seen the code confirming your eligibility for a free 2 year old place. Please note funding cannot be backdated.  

Free childcare for 2 year olds

I have lost my confirmation code

If you have already applied but have lost your confirmation code

email  and your code will be sent to you.

Immigration status and public funds

Free childcare for 2 year olds has an eligibility requirement relating to the immigration status of the parent(s) and so may not be available to all families.

Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds (15 hours) is not classed as a public fund for immigration purposes, so can be accessed by a child regardless of their immigration status

The immigration status of a person who is not a British citizen (a non-UK national) will determine whether they are able to access public funds.

Non-UK nationals are required to obtain leave to enter or remain in order to live in the UK, unless they have the right of abode or are exempt from immigration control.

When leave to enter or remain is granted, conditions may be imposed on the person relating to employment and access to public funds

Different conditions apply depending on the type of leave that the person has been granted. 

When limited leave to enter is granted to a person to visit, study, work, or join family in the UK, they will have the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition imposed.

A person who does not have any leave to enter or remain when they are required to have this will also have no recourse to public funds.

When a service has immigration-related eligibility requirements, the person’s immigration status will usually need to be established, such as whether they have a form of immigration permission and, if so, what type of visa they hold.

Following the UK's departure from the European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members are now required to obtain leave to enter or remain in order to live in the UK, although those who were living in the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 have different residence rights and entitlements to services. Therefore an EEA national's immigration status will be relevant when establishing their entitlement to benefits and housing assistance.

Early Education and Childcare rights and entitlements

Public Funds guidance

Support for families in Sandwell who have no recourse to public funds

Afghanistan Resettlement Education Grant

Immigration information for Ukrainians in the UK

Skilled Worker Visa

A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. 

This replaces Tier 2 (General) work visa (also known as Type 2 visa)

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:

  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do

You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

You cannot claim public funds (benefits) and pensions. 

You will not be eligible for 2 year old funding unless you have recourse to public funds

Apply for a skilled worker visa

Student Visa

Student Visa replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa.

A student visa allows overseas students to come to the UK and study.

You cannot claim public funds (benefits) and pensions. 

You will not be eligible for 2 year old funding unless you have recourse to public funds

You can apply for a Student visa if you’re 16 or over and want to study on a further or higher education course in the UK.

How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK.

If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

You may also be able to extend your visa.

You may be able to work but this depends on  what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.

If you have a student visa, you will be told what you can and cannot do when you recieve the visa.

Apply for a student visa

Hong Kong British National (Overseas)

The UK government has introduced a new immigration route for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) status holders, providing the opportunity for them and their family members to live, work and study in the UK.

Information for British nationals (overseas) on immigration to the UK following the announcement of national security legislation in Hong Kong.

Welcome: a guide for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa holders in the UK

A guide for adults and dependants who have been granted leave on the new British National (Overseas) visa to access public services and make the most of the opportunities in the UK.


You could be entitled to 15 hours free childcare for 2 year olds.

All children will get 15 hours free nursery education starting the term after the child's 3rd birthday.

Working parents may also be entitled to an additional 15 hours.

Childcare Brokerage Service

The Brokerage Service provides help to families who are unable to find a 2 year old funded place. They will discuss your needs with you and provide advice and information on the availability of places in your area.

If you need any help finding suitable childcare then contact us and we’ll do our best to help you.

How to make a complaint

If you are unhappy with your application for free childcare for 2 year olds

email details of your complaint to

Complaints about childcare quality

If the complaint relates to quality issues, first speak to your childcare provider

If it isn't resolved, contact Ofsted on 0300 123 1234