Free early learning for two year olds

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News and updates

Why not visit the Childcare Choices website to find out all the latest news on how you might be able to fund your child's childcare and make it as cost-effective as possible. It also allows parents to sign up for updates and notifications on tax-free childcare as well as other government childcare cost schemes. 

What is the free childcare offer for two year olds?

Did you know that your two year old could have up to 15 hours of free childcare each week? This could be used at a day nursery, maintained nursery, playgroup, pre-school or with a registered childminder. If you do not want to use 15 hours straight away, you can always build this up over time and as your child gets older increase the amount of funded hours they use.

Quality early learning within settings can help your child:

  • learn
  • play
  • make new friends
  • experience new activities
  • get ready for school.

It can also help you:

  • have more time
  • take up a college course
  • go back to work
  • meet other parents
  • get ideas of how to help your child play and learn.

Are you eligible?

Your two year old can get free early education and childcare the term after they turn two years old, 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 - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the Working Tax Credit 4 week run on, this is the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.


Your two year old is looked after by the Derby City Local Authority or has a Child Protection Plan. Children with adoption orders, residence orders or special guardianship orders are also eligible.


Your child has a disability and receives Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)/Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

If you are entitled, your child can start the term after they turns two and finishes at the end of the term in which your child turns three. All families are eligible for free three and four year old childcare, find out more about three and four year old childcare.

Getting a place

To find out if you are eligible, please contact the Family Information Service on 01332 640758. You can also apply online from the comfort of your own home.

You may want to apply within your local childcare settings and children's centres. Please note, any information you provide for the eligibility check will be treated in confidence and only used for checking if you qualify for free childcare and other funding opportunities. This information may be shared with HMRC and the Department for Education.

If you give your consent to these terms then please continue with your application. If you need to withdraw your consent at any time then please contact the Families Information Service using our contact details at the bottom of the page.

If you are finding it difficult to find childcare in your area, or that is appropriate to you families needs please complete this form and we will help you.

Child's birth date

They are eligible for a free place from:

Their free place ends:

You can apply for a place from:

1 January and 31 March The beginning of the summer term (April) At the end of the spring school term as your child turns three. 1 January, before the April you want to take up childcare in.
1 April and 31 August The beginning of the autumn term (September) At the end of the summer school term as your child turns three. 1 May, before the September you want to take up childcare in.
1 September and 31 December The beginning of the spring term (January) At the end of the autumn school term as your child turns three. 1 October, before the January you want to take up childcare in.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for the answers to your questions about this offer.

Useful forms


Contact details

Post address:
Families Information Service
Derby City Council
The Council House
Corporation Street
Phone: 01332 640758
Families Information Service
Derby City Council
The Council House
Corporation Street