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Free childcare for 2 year olds

Free Early Learning Image

Some 2-year-olds in England can get free early education and childcare. If your child is eligible, then your family could receive up to 570 hours per year of free childcare and give your child a great start in life. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year.

Your child will learn lots of new skills: they’ll learn to speak and listen, play and explore, learn numbers and other activities.

They’ll make lots of new friends and you’ll have time to work, train or just have some time for yourself.

Once approved, your free early learning entitlement runs from the start of the term after your child's 2nd birthday until your child begins school, even if your family circumstances change.


When to apply

If your child is eligible, you can start claiming after they turn 2. The date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is.


2 Year Free Early Learning Application Periods
Child's Second Birthday You can apply after FEL Start Date
Summer Term 1 April-31 August 23 June Autumn Term 1 September
Autumn Term 1 September -31 December 23 October Spring Term 1 January
Spring Term 1 January-31 March 22 January Summer Term 1 April


What you need to apply (parents and carers)

To apply you will need:

  • full name, gender and date of birth of the child
  • full name, address and date of birth of the child's parent or carer (as it appears on their benefit claim) 
  • National Insurance Number (or National Asylum Number) of the parent or carer unless the child is in the care of a Local Authority

You can apply for a maximum of 3 children on 1 application.

Guidance for childcare professionals is below.


Conditions statement

It is important that you read this carefully.

If you apply on behalf of someone else, you must make them aware of these conditions.

Your declaration

By applying for 2 year Free Early Learning you declare that you agree to the following conditions and that all information provided as part of your application is correct to the best of your knowledge:

  • applications can only be made for children who live with you and for whom you have parental responsibility
  • you must inform us in writing if the child no longer lives with you or you no longer have parental responsibility while they are still in funded provision
  • your information may be shared locally to benefit your family and to verify eligibility with Government Departments
  • if your child stays in a funded early years provision (and then school) after the age of 2, we may make routine eligibility checks on all current claims throughout the year
  • we may use your information to confirm further early years funding entitlement known as Early Years Pupil Premium for children aged 3 and 4, and School Age Pupil Premium once your child begins school


Check eligibility and apply

You can use the Citizen Portal to apply online and check your eligibility for 2 Year Old Funding.  You will need access to a valid email address to register an account and to receive the results of the check.


Apply through financial eligibility

The parent or guardian receives one or more of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • Tax Credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
  • the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit

You can apply for free childcare if you (or the person you are applying on behalf of) meet the above financial criteria.


Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

You can apply for free childcare if you receive DLA on behalf of your child.


Apply because of Special educational needs (SEN), or your child is in or has left local authority care

  • The child is looked after by a local authority
  • The child has left care through adoption or through a special guardianship or child arrangements order
  • The child has a current Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan


Other ways to apply

Telephone us (select option 4).


Providers offering free childcare

Places are available at approved nurseries, pre-schools, schools and childminders.

Childcare providers on Sheffield Directory who offer free 2 year old places near you.


Child Tax Credits

If your family receives tax credits and then takes up a funded childcare place, you must inform HMRC on 0345 3003900 (within 1 month) if your:

  • childcare costs stop
  • average weekly costs go down by £10 or more

Changes that affect your tax credits.


Childcare professionals applying on behalf of parents

You must ensure that the parent is aware of and agrees to the Conditions Statement.

Each application must only refer to 1 benefit claim, for example:

  • You care for 3 children from 3 different families. You need to complete 3 different applications
  • You care for 3 children but 2 are related. You need to complete 2 different applications: one for the 2 related children and 1 for the other child
  • If you are applying for children in our care, you can include up to 3 looked after children on the same application


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  • Modified: Jun 30, 2016 12:42:01 PM