Free early education and childcare
Free childcare for two year olds
Your 2-year-old may be eligible for free childcare at nurseries, pre-schools or childminders.
Create an account to check your eligibility
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Your 2-year-old can get free early education and 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 - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of £15,400 or less a year, after tax
- tax credits and you have an income of £16,190 or less a year, 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
- Children of Zambrano Carers
- Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private/family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’).
If you’re eligible the free early education and childcare:
- must be with an approved childcare provider
- starts from the term after your child’s 2nd birthday (see below for the relevant dates for commencing)
Contact: the Family Information Service on 0300 123 5033 to find out if you qualify for any of the above reasons.
Relevant dates for commencing
- Children born in the period 1st January to 31st March: the start of term beginning on or following 1st April after the child’s second birthday
- Children born in the period 1st April to 31st August: the start of term beginning on or following 1st September after the child’s second birthday
- Children born in the period 1st September to 31st December: the start of term beginning on or following 1st January after the child’s second birthday.
How many hours you are entitled to
There are up to 15 hours per week of free childcare in term time only (38 weeks of the year) or up to 11 hours per week if taken over the whole year. This will depend on your preferred childcare providers' opening times and availability.
Free childcare providers
The funded child cared for two years olds can only be taken with childcare providers who are on Cheshire East's approved list.
You have some choice about how and where you take your free childcare place, but this depends on who has vacancies.
How to arrange free childcare
After you have successfully completed your eligibility check, Cheshire East Family Information Service, will send you a confirmation letter with a unique reference code and a list of approved providers in a 2 mile radius of your postcode. To take a place elsewhere in Cheshire East but not on your list contact the Family Information Service on 0300 123 5033 who will provide a list of additional providers.
When your child has a place and you are happy with the placement your child will remain with that childcare provider. They will automatically be transferred over to the funding for three and four year olds, even if your circumstances change, for example you return to work.
2 year old free childcare leaflets