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Free childcare for families receiving certain government support

Find out if your child is eligible for 15 hours a week free childcare during term time and how to apply.

How to apply

You can use our Citizen Portal to check eligibility and apply for free childcare for 2-year-olds.

Apply for free childcare for 2-year-olds.

Eligibility information

Your 2-year-old can get free childcare if you live in England and get any 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
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit (or both), and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax 
  • 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 an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips. 

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 childcare for your 2-year-old.  

You must live in England and your household income must be no more than:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children 
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments. 

When will the free childcare start? 

If you're eligible the childcare starts the first school term after your child's second birthday. 

The date of birth criteria are as follows: 

  • children born in the period 1 January to 31 March: the start of term beginning on or following 1 April after the child's second birthday 
  • children born in the period 1 April to 31 August: the start of term beginning on or following 1 September after the child's second birthday 
  • children born in the period 1 September to 31 December: the start of term beginning on or following 1 January after the child's second birthday

Further help 

If you have any questions about your application, please contact the Families Information Service on 01642 527225.