Children who meet the eligibility criteria are entitled to 15 hours per week of early education at a registered childcare provider.
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
- have a household income below the threshold of £16,190 and:
- are in receipt of Child Tax Credit but not working tax credit;
- are in receipt of Working Tax Credit but not child tax credit;
- are in receipt of the Working Tax Credit 4 week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- 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
The eligibility criteria has been extended to also cover the following groups of children where the family meet the equivalent income requirements:
- children of Zambrano Carers
- children of families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) 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
- children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999)
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 have 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.