Free early education and childcare for 2-year-olds for working families

The government may fund up to 15 hours of free childcare per week for 2-year-olds with working families. Any hours over and beyond this, attended at a childcare setting, must be paid for by the parent or carer.


If you have a 2-year-old and you are employed or self-employed, you may be eligible to receive Working Families childcare funding. If you are a two parent or carer family, both of you must be employed or self-employed.

You can see if you are eligible by visiting Childcare Choices.

If eligible, your child can receive up to 570 funded hours per year, to be used in a childcare setting rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

Funded hours

Funding can be taken over 38 weeks (term time), 47.5 weeks, 51 weeks or 52 weeks.

Your childcare provider can explain how they would claim funding - whether it is used over term time or if they 'stretch it' over a longer period of time throughout the year. This will change how many hours you can claim in the week, but a stretched offer may be more suitable. Please ask your childcare provider for further details.

Children qualify for the first full funding block of childcare following their second birthday.

The 3 blocks are:

  • 1 September to 31 December
  • 1 January to 31 March
  • 1 April to 31 August


To claim your childcare please speak to your chosen childcare provider who can help.

Providers may ask for a payment for meals and other consumables.

Please make sure you are aware of any additional charges before agreeing to take up the place.


You can access funded early education and childcare at most Ofsted registered childcare providers including:

  • private day nurseries
  • pre-school playgroups
  • maintained nurseries
  • childminders, including childminders registered with a Childminding Agency
  • out-of-school provision
  • independent schools

Multiple providers

You may choose for your child to take all or part of their childcare at a maximum of 2 childcare providers.

When to use it

Not all parents choose to start their childcare as soon as they qualify. It may be that you choose to start a few weeks into the funding block.

Your child is still entitled to childcare regardless of when you choose to start in the funding block, provided:

  • the childcare provider you have chosen has a vacancy
  • the available vacancy doesn't need the childcare provider to employ another member of staff - additional children would exceed the amount of children they are allowed to have (as set by Ofsted in the Ofsted ratios)
  • it does not state in the childcare provider's admissions policy or terms and conditions that they will not admit funded children after the headcount day has passed

Last updated 02 April 2024