Free Early Years Education (EYE) funding for eligible 2 year olds

This is a scheme that allows eligible children to receive free early education from the funding period after their second birthday

This is part of a national offer from the Department for Education (DfE) and has been developed to improve outcomes for identified two year olds who would benefit from access to high quality early years and childcare provision.

Children who are confirmed as eligible will be offered up to 15 free early years education hours per week for 38 weeks, totalling 570 hours for your child’s eligible funding year. These hours begin in the funding period after your child's second birthday. If you choose a childcare provider who is open for more than 38 weeks, you may also be able to “stretch” the free hours across your child’s funding year to cover most school holidays. By stretching the hours your child will have less free hours per week.

Childcare providers that offer 2-year-old places will need to have an Ofsted rating of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ and/or have been assessed by the Services for Young Children (SfYC) as meeting the standards required. Should a parent want their child to take up a place with a childcare provider not on the 2 Year Old Offer list, the provider needs to contact SfYC.


Eligibility criteria for 2-year-old Early Years Education funding

Your 2-year-old can have free early education and childcare if you claim welfare benefits (‘economic criteria’) or your child is looked after by the local authority or has additional needs (‘non-economic criteria’).

Details of the eligibility criteria.

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 1999 and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’) or
  • have 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 either:

  • leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • support from the local council because '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 feel you meet these special criteria you must complete this form, and email with the required evidence to Services for Young Children.
Information required to apply for 2 year old Early Years Education funding

When you apply, you will be asked to provide the following details:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • Contact details
  • National Insurance Number or National Asylum Seekers Number
  • Child's name and date of birth

Where the family meets the non-economic criteria: Children Looked After by the Local Authority or Child with Special Educational Needs or/and Disability, the parent can still apply. They MUST tick the appropriate box in section 3 of the application "Your child's details" to show the application is under 'other criteria' (then select the eligibility criteria met). At the end of the application the parent/carer will be prompted to email the form and supporting evidence to Services for Young Children.

How applications are processed

The online Eligibility Checking Service will provide an immediate outcome for parents/carers meeting the economic criteria. A reference number and further instructions on what to do next will be given to the parent on the screen. 

Where the parent is 'Not found' on the Eligibility Checking Service, the parent will receive an instruction to check the information that has been submitted is correct, and resubmit if not. The parent may be asked to contact Services for Young Children (SfYC) to provide documents to show that the economic criteria have been met, for example, the TC602 Tax Credit Award Notice for Working Tax Credit.

Check if you qualify and apply
If you think your child is eligible for free early years education funding (having checked the criteria in step 1 above), apply using the online checking and application service, by selecting the green button below. If you are unable to make an online application please contact either your chosen provider or Services for Young Children on 01962 847070 (option 1) and an assisted application can be done on your behalf.
Additional costs and services

There is no funding available to meet transport costs. There may be an opportunity for a childminder to support the family by collecting and dropping off your child at the childcare provision or home, but this is likely to have a cost.

Childcare providers can charge for a meal if your child attends during a mealtime and you have agreed this. Most providers will allow you to send in a packed meal for your child.

If you are only having free early years education hours for your child your childcare provider should not charge you for anything more.

Further information

Parents should talk to their childcare provider.

Search for childcare services
Two year old offer parent leaflet
Two year old parent poster

Contact us

Family Information Service
Phone 0300 555 1384

Can't remember your eligible 2YO code?