Free education and childcare for 2-year-olds

Your 2-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of £15,400 or less a year, after tax
  • tax credits and you 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 you get when you stop 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 eligible the free early education and childcare:

Contact your childcare provider or local council to find out more.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

There are different schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  1. Step 1 Find out if you can get help with childcare costs

  2. and Find where you can get childcare

  3. Step 2 Get help paying for childcare

    You can get help with childcare costs for children under 18. You might be able to apply for:

    You could also get free hours childcare when your child is aged 2 to 4. You might be able to apply for:

    You can only get childcare vouchers if you have already joined a scheme.

    1. Check the rules for childcare vouchers
  4. Step 3 Check what to do if your circumstances change

    Tell government straight away if your circumstances change and you're getting:

    If you're getting 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare you have to confirm if your details are up to date every 3 months.

    1. Sign into your childcare account to find out when you next have to check your details

    Your eligibility for support with childcare costs might also change.

    1. Check if your eligibility for help with childcare costs has changed
  5. Step 4 Check what to do when your child reaches school age

    Your child starts primary school the September after they turn 4.

    1. Apply for a primary school place
    2. Find before and after school and holiday clubs

    You might be able to use help like tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare to pay for childcare like wraparound care, after school clubs or other activities.