Free education and childcare for 2-year-olds

Your 2-year-old can get free 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, 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:

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

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

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:

Check with your local council if you’re unsure if you can get free childcare.

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.