Free childcare and education

All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year, or as stretched funding for 11 hours each week for 51 weeks of the year. Some 2-year-olds are also eligible.
3 to 4-year-olds
You can start claiming free childcare after your child turns 3. The date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is.
Child’s birthday When you can claim
1 January to 31 March the beginning of term on or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August the beginning of term on or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December the beginning of term on or after 1 January

Child’s birthday
1 January to 31 March
1 April to 31 August
1 September to 31 December
When you can claim
the beginning of term on or after 1 April
the beginning of term on or after 1 September
the beginning of term on or after 1 January

You can’t continue to claim free childcare once your child starts reception class in a state school.
2-year-olds
Some 2-year-olds in England can get free early education and childcare.
You must be getting one of the following:
• Income Support
• income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
• income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
• support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
• tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
• the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
• the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
• Universal Credit
Children are also entitled to a place if:
• they’re looked after by a local council
• they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education health and care plan
• they get Disability Living Allowance
• they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
If your child is eligible, you can start claiming after the term after they turn 2. You can apply on line or ask for an application form at the nursery or local children’s centre.