If you are in a family living on a low income or claiming income based benefits, and your 2 year old has additional needs, or has left care, you may be entitled to free early education.
You may be entitled to claim up to 15 hours per week of free early education during term time, or up to 11 hours per week throughout the year.
Children will be given the opportunity to experience high quality early years education with the support of a trained, high quality registered childminder, nursery or pre-school.
The aim of the programme is to enable your child to receive high quality early education that will help them to be ready for school.
Free early education will be given in the following circumstances.
If your 2 year old is from a family receiving:
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 less than £15,400 a year after tax
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)
If your 2 year old child falls into one of the following criteria, they will also be eligible for free early education
your child has a current statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care plan
your child attracts Disability Living Allowance
your child is looked after by the Local Authority
your child has left care through special guardianship, an adoption or residence order
This entitlement is available in the term after an eligible child’s second birthday.
You should be able to keep your child at your preferred provider until they can access a school place, normally in the September after their third birthday.
Your entitlement will continue to be free regardless of whether your family’s financial circumstances change.
You can apply when your child is 18 months old.
Any applications for children under 18 months old will not be processed.
Child’s second birthday
Entitled to their free place
|Between 1 January and 31 March||From the start of summer term in April||From January|
|Between 1 April and 31 August||From the start of the autumn term in September||From April|
|Between 1 September and 31 December||From the start of the spring term in January||From September|
You can apply for free early education for your 2 year old using our online form.
Your details will be used to check if your child is eligible for a free place.
This information will also be used to register your family with your local children’s centre (if you are not already registered) so you are informed of local services that can benefit your family.
It can take a few weeks to process applications.
If your application has been successful, it will be placed into a central waiting list and you will be contacted once a placement becomes available.