UPDATE: New Government-Funded Childcare for 2 Year Olds

image of young babies being cared for in childcare setting. baby girl with blonde hair and pink headband with other babies the background

Eligibility for Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

From April 2024, working parents in England with 2-year-old children can access 15 hours of free childcare per week. Eligibility includes:

  • Families receiving benefits like Income Support, income-based JSA, ESA, Universal Credit with a household income of £15,400 a year or less after tax, or Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit with a household income of £16,190 a year or less before tax.
  • 2-year-olds who are looked after by a local authority, have an EHC plan, receive Disability Living Allowance, or have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order, or a child arrangements order.
  • Non-UK citizens without recourse to public funds, subject to income limits and savings/investments not exceeding £16,000​​.

Application Timeline and Process

Applications for the new childcare offer opened on January 2, 2024. The recommended registration period is between mid-January and the end of February 2024, to ensure readiness for the April rollout​​. To apply, parents need to:

  1. Set up a childcare account.
  2. Obtain a code for free childcare, which they can get from the childcare provider or local council.
  3. Reconfirm eligibility every 3 months to maintain the funding​​.

Usage of Free Childcare Hours

The 15 hours of free childcare per week for 2-year-olds are available for 38 weeks of the year, during school term time. Depending on the provider, these hours can be stretched over 52 weeks if fewer hours are used weekly. The childcare must be with an approved provider and ends when the child starts in reception class or reaches compulsory school age, whichever is later​​.

The Expansion of Childcare Support

This change is part of a broader expansion of childcare support. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support per week. This phased approach ensures that childcare providers can meet the needs of more families​​.


This expansion in childcare funding for 2-year-olds is a pivotal development for working parents, offering both financial relief and the assurance of quality early education for their children. For more details on this and other childcare funding options, visit our comprehensive guides on Brighter Beginnings and explore the resources available at Childcare Choices.

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