Free places for 2 year olds

Free early education gives children the best start in life. Through learning and playing with other children in a safe and structured environment, they'll have a head start when they begin school.

Eligible children can receive up to 15 hours per week of free early education at an approved provider who is part of the scheme.  This starts from 1 September, 1 January or 1 April after their second birthday. Children will then automatically be funded until they start school.

Is my two year old child eligible?

For your child to be eligible, you must meet one of the criteria in the table below. Details of the evidence you will need to provide are also listed. 


Families in receipt of one or more of the following benefits or tax credits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • The guarantee element of the State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, where your household income is less than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit, where your household income is less than £16,190

We will use the information you provide on the application form to check your eligibility using an online government database.

You do not need to provide any further evidence.

Families in receipt of Universal Credit

Copy of your letter confirming you are in receipt of Universal Credit. 

Asylum seekers receiving support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

National Asylum Seeker Service (NASS) Reference Number

Children who are looked after by the local authority or who have left care through special guardianship, adoption or residence order. 

Confirmation from your Social Worker.

Children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan.

Confirmation from your Social Worker.

Children who have a statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Confirmation from your EHC lead professional.

Disabled children who receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Copy of your benefit letter confirming you are in receipt of DLA for your child.

How do I find a place for my child?

There is a choice of providers such as a preschool playgroup, a private day nursery or childminder. View approved providers or contact the Family Information Service on 0161 912 1053 for help finding local providers. In most cases, there will be an approved provider within walking distance of your home.

You should find a provisional place for your child before submitting your application for free early education. You can do this by contacting the provider directly.

If you are eligible but are unable to find your child a place, please contact us and the Early Education Project Officer will help you find a local vacancy.

How do I apply?

The quickest and easiest way to apply is by completing our online application form

You can also apply by post.  A paper application form is available from the Family Information Service, your provider or social worker.

It takes up to 10 working days to process your application. You will then receive an email confirmation of your free hours. If you haven't provided an email address, you will receive this notification by post.  See also When to apply for a 2 year old place.

If you have any further questions please see Additional information about 2 year old places