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Early Education for 2 year olds

Families who are in receipt of certain additional government support could be entitled to to up to 15 hours per week of early education at a registered childcare provider for thier two year olds. 

The entitlement can be taken during term time, however some childcare providers may let you take the 15 hours more flexibly to meet your individual needs.  This could include taking less hours per week but extending the childcare over the school holidays.

If you meet the criteria set out below, you can start claiming free childcare the term after your child turns 2, depending on when their birthday is:

Children born betwen: Term: Term beginning:
     1 April and 31 August Autumn      on or after 1 September
     1 September and 31 December Spring on or after 1 January  
     1 January and 31 March Summer on or after 1 April


What is the criteria for the service?

The criteria for accessing a 2 year place are set out below:

The family are in receipt of:

  • Income Support
  • income related - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • support under part vi of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit - with an annual net earnings threshold of £15,400
  • are in receipt of Child Tax Credit and/or Working tax credit and have a household income below the threshold of £16,190
  • are in receipt of the Working Tax Credit 4 week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit) 

The child

  • is cared for by the Local Authority
  • has a current Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • has left the care of the Local Authority through arrangements for Special Guardianship or Residence Order or through Adoption

Non-UK citizens who cannot claim benefits (No Recourse to Public Funds)

If a family are non-UK citizens and their immigration status states that they have 'no recourse to public funds', they may be able to get a place.  They must live in England and their houshold income must be no more than: 

  • £26,500 for families with one child; or
  • £30,600 for families with two or more children.

The family cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments. 

The application process

To apply for free early education entitlement for two year olds can you can:  

  • Visit the Family Portal, create an account and apply yourself on-line.  
  • Contact your preferred childcare provider, nursery or childminder and ask if they can carry out an assisted application on your behalf
  • Contact the Families Information Service (FIS) on 0191 561 3126, who will carry out a check with you over the telephone

If you are found to be eligible, you will be issued with an application reference number that you can then give you your childcare provider for them to claim the necessary funding

If you need any further assistance you can contact FIS on 0191 520 5553.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Families Information Service
0191 520 5553

Other Details


Age Ranges
2-3 years

Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
0-4 (Birth to Pre-School)
Sunderland City Council and Together for Children Sunderland do not recommend or endorse any providers or services listed. Please read our full Disclaimer here.
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