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Free early education for two year olds

Who qualifies?


Your child will qualify for a free place if you get:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support under immigration and asylum law
  • The guaranteed part of State Pension Credit
  • Tax Credit and you have an annual household income of under £16,190 before tax
  • Universal credit and you have an annual income of less than £15,400 after tax

> To check your eligibility against the criteria, use our online checker. 

The online check will return an immediate result via email. If you are eligible you will be emailed an eligibility certificate. Print it out and take it to your chosen childcare provider.


Children qualify in their own right if:

  • they are looked after by a local council
  • they have a child protection plan
  • they have a disability living allowance
  • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN)
  • they have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
  • they left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order
  • they are children of Zambrano Carers, who also meet low level income requirements
  • they are children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the uk on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, who also meet low level income requirements
  • they are children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999)

If you think the child qualifies in their own right under any of the criteria, email or call 020 3373 0980 and we can confirm what evidence we need.

What your child gets

Your child can receive 15 hours of free early education per week, 38 weeks per year.  Free places are offered as:

  • three hours per day over five days
  • five hours per day over three days
  • 15 hours spread over the week
  • or the hours can be stretched out to meet your needs.

When your child can start

If your two year old qualifies for free early education, they will usually start in the term after their second birthday.

If we have not contacted you, but you think your child is eligible, call us on 020 3373 0980 or email

Where your child can get free early education

Free early education and childcare can be at:

  • all types of nurseries and nursery classes
  • playgroups and pre-schools
  • childminders

The provider must be registered with Ofsted and included on our approved list of early learning providers for two year olds.

Before you choose a provider for your child, find out more about different types of childcare on offer. You can also get tips on how to choose a childcare provider.

Contact us

For more information you can email us on or call us on 020 3373 0980.

Watch our short film about free early education for two year olds

Click here to play the video.