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Two year olds - free childcare and early education

Some two year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare. To be eligible you must be receiving one of the following:

  • Income support
  • Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • 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:
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 are unsure whether you are eligible for free childcare, please call Family Information Service on 020 8547 5215 or email

Apply for two year old funding online

Online application form (opens a new window)

What hours will my child get and how can they be used?

Eligible children get 15 hours of free early education and childcare a week during term times. This is a total of 570 hours which can be stretched over a whole year if your child is in a setting that is open all year,  to help working families with their regular childcare costs.

Can I choose where to take up the free entitlement? 

The 15 hours is available in certain school nurseries, day nurseries, preschool playgroups and with many registered childminders.

If your child is not in a nursery or childcare and your application is successful, we will send you a list of providers to choose from.

If your child is already in a nursery or childcare you should still apply but speak to the nursery manager or childminder to find out if they will be able to continue to offer your child a place with funding.

When will my child be eligible and how can I apply? 

You can apply by picking up an application form at your local children's centre or completing our online application. If you want your child to attend a setting in Kingston or Richmond but you don't live in the boroughs you can still apply.

Please use the dates below as a guide for when you should apply.

If your child's second birthday is between 1 April and 31 August, you qualify for funding:

  • from the autumn term starting in September
  • you can submit an application after 31 March

If your child's second birthday is between 1 September and 31 December, you qualify for funding:

  • from the spring term starting in January
  • you can submit an application after 31 August

If your child's second birthday is between 1 January and 31 March, you qualify for funding:

  • from the summer term starting in April
  • you can submit an application after 31 December
What happens once I have applied and how soon will I know if my application has been approved?

Your application will be checked for eligibility. We will then contact you to let you know if your application has been approved.

If your application is approved we will send you an email and explain what to do next. 

Times and days of attendance will depend on the childcare provider's availability.

You should not be charged for any part of the placement up to a maximum of 15 hours per week over 38 weeks (term time only). If you want additional hours you would have to request this from your childcare provider and pay for these.

Please note, eligibility checking may take several weeks to be completed. However, we will let you know in plenty of time for you to find a childcare place.

Is there anything that could affect my child's entitlement to funding?

If your application is successful and your child is receiving his or her free early education, certain changes can affect the funding but other things won't:

  •  If you move your child to a childcare provider outside the Kingston and Richmond boroughs, you may need to reapply to the local authority in which your new childcare provider is located. 

  • if your income changes or you return to work, this does not change anything - your child will continue to receive the funding for two year olds until they are eligible for three year old early education funding
What happens when my child turns three years old?

When a child becomes three years old, they will usually move over to the funding scheme for three year olds and stay with the same provider. However in some cases this might not be possible and you may have to move to a different provider. You should check before you register with your provider to find out if your child will be able to stay for their funded place as a three year old. If you are a working family you may now be eligible for 30 hours Early Education Funding.