Help paying for childcare
2. Free childcare and education for 2 to 4-year-olds
All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.
Some 2-year-olds are also eligible.
From September 2017, you may be able to get 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare.
When you can start claiming
The date you can start claiming depends on your child’s birthday.
|Child’s birthday||When you can claim|
|1 January to 31 March||The beginning of term on or after 1 April|
|1 April to 31 August||The beginning of term on or after 1 September|
|1 September to 31 December||The beginning of term on or after 1 January|
Example Your child was born on 15 February 2013. You can get free childcare when the next term starts after 1 April 2016.
The free early education and childcare must be with an approved childcare provider.
It stops once your child starts reception class in a state school.
Eligibility for 2-year-olds
Your 2-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you get one of the following:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
- tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 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
Get more information about free childcare
You can get more information about free early education and childcare from your local council.