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Early education for 2-year-olds

Some children who are two years of age can access 15 hours of funded early education and childcare a week, depending on their individual family circumstances.

Your 2-year-old can get funded early education or childcare if you live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

2-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have a statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have any of the following:

  • leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)

If you're eligible, you can start claiming funded early education after your child turns two.


A child turns two in the period Application period Child will be eligible for a funded place from the start of:
1st April to 31st August 1st July to 31st August 1st Sept (Autumn term)
1st Sept to 31st Dec 1st Nov to 31st Dec 1st January (Spring term)
1st Jan to 31st March 1st Feb to 31st March 1st April (Summer term)


Passport for 2s

The 'Passport for 2s' scheme has been introduced to make it easier for those who are entitled to access up to 15 hours of funded early education for their 2 year old. 

How it works?

If you are entitled to up to 15 hours funded early education, we will send you a passport letter which can then simply be handed in to a provider of your choice and swapped for up to 15 hours funded early education. You will also need to provide a copy of your child's birth certificate..

To check if you are entitled, you can fill in an application form online. You can find out more here

Or contact our Funded Education Entitlement Team on 01744 676541

Here's all the information you need about Passport for 2s

Here is a list of providers, registered to provide funded early education for 2-year-olds. You can contact them directly to express your interest if you are eligible. 


Download the directory

The government has developed a number of new ways to help parents with their childcare costs for children of all ages.

Visit Childcare Choices to find out more.

If you have any queries, please contact our Funded Early Education Entitlement team on the following numbers:

  • Enquiries about entitlement for 2-year-olds – 01744 676541
  • All other enquiries – 01744 676542 or 676557

How can we make this information easier to understand? Do you have any other feedback about this page? We'd welcome your thoughts - email us on earlyyearsfeee@sthelens.gov.uk