15 hours a week of free childcare is available to 2-year-old children when their family receives certain benefits or asylum support, if a child has additional needs, or when a child's family has no recourse to public funds. From April 2024, 15 hours a week free childcare will be available to 2-year-old children in working families.
The eligibility requirements that a parent or child must meet are set out in this section. For more details, families can refer to the government information about free early education and childcare for 2-year-olds and information about how to apply for childcare. Councils will need to refer to the Department for Education Early education and childcare statutory guidance.
A 2-year-old child will be entitled to 15 hours free childcare when the family are receiving Home Office asylum support provided under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This includes section 95 or section 98 asylum support.
A 2-year-old child will be entitled to 15 hours free childcare when their parent is claiming one of the following benefits:
A 2-year-old child will be entitled to 15 hours free childcare if they:
A child in a family with no recourse to public funds would qualify for the free hours if one of these statements applies to them.
A 2-year-old child will be entitled to 15 hours free childcare when they meet the following requirements:
Additionally, the family cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.
Free childcare for a 2-year-old can be accessed by all families with no recourse to public funds, subject to meeting the income threshold when this applies. This includes families that have leave to remain with a 'No Recourse to Public Funds' condition, families without lawful status in the UK, families receiving section 4 Home Office asylum support, and families with pre-settled status who are unable to meet benefit right to reside rules.
Councils that receive a request for 15 hours free childcare for a 2-year-old from a family with no recourse to public funds will need to refer to the Department for Education guidance on free early education for 2-year-olds from families with no recourse to public funds and application form, which a family with no recourse to public funds can be asked to complete to confirm their eligibility.
In 2024, parents who are working will be able to apply for 15 hours/week (570 hours a year) of free childcare for a 2-year-old child. This entitlement will start on different dates, depending on when the child turns 2:
The parent (and their partner) must meet employment and income requirements, and the person applying will need to meet an immigration requirement. These requirements are the same as those that currently apply to families claiming 30 hours for 3 to 4-year-old children. For more information about these requirements, see our information about eligibility for 3 to 4-year-olds (30 hours).
For details about when and how to apply, see the government information about applying for free childcare.