Some families can get 15 hours funded a week (across the school year, 38 weeks) with a childcare provider.

Your child will be learning and playing with other children. This could also give you time (15 hours a week) to study or look for work.

You will need to meet one or more of the following criteria for your child to be eligible:

  • 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 funded childcare if they:

  • are looked after (in the care of) by a local authority
  • have an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP)
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

To confirm your eligibility, and get your code register on the portal

If you are having trouble applying on the portal you can complete the PDF application PDF form and return via email to the EEF Team . Please note this will take longer to process.

If you are found eligible you will be issued with a code to take to your childcare provider (nursery etc). When your child can start their funded place will depend on their date of birth. Please see the table below for an explanation of start dates.

Child’s 2nd Birthday is between Place will start
1 April - 31 August

From 1 September following their 2nd birthday (depending on when your childcare provider allows funded places to start during this claim period)

1 September -31 December

From 1 January following their 2nd birthday (depending on when your childcare provider allows funded places to start during this claim period)

1 January – 31 March

From 1 April following their 2nd birthday (depending on when your childcare provider allows funded places to start during this claim period)

You can also apply if you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

  • Your 2-year-old may get funded 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 funded childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:
  • leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer)
  • Hong Kong's British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)s) granted leave to remain with no recourse to public funds. BN(O)s will also be entitled if the child has SEND, an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or they are a looked after or previously looked after child. For further information on these criteria, please see Help paying for childcare: Help paying for childcare: Free education and childcare for 2-year-olds - GOV.UK