Free childcare for 2-4 year olds


If you are on certain benefits, you may be able to get 15 hours free childcare for your two year old 38 weeks a year. It only takes a few minutes to apply online.

If your childcare provider has space, you may be able to stretch your hours over more weeks, e.g. 11 hours over 48 weeks. Talk to them about this.

If you are on any of these benefits, your child should be able to get a place:

You can also get a place if:

  • they’re looked after by a local council;
  • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education health and care plan;
  • they get Disability Living Allowance; or
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or residence order.

You will need to provide evidence of all the above

If you get Working Tax Credit you must tell the Tax Credit helpline as soon as you start getting the 15 hours free childcare as this may affect the amount that you get (you will always be better off by claiming the 15 hours free childcare). Phone them on 0345 300 3900 Monday–Friday 8am - 8pm or Saturday 8am - 4pm.

How to apply

Follow these six steps:

1. Wait until your child is 2 years old

2. Apply online via the Hackney Parent Portal providing your name, your national insurance number, date of birth, e-mail address and other information

3. Once you have completed the online application you will get a reference number by email

4. If your application is successful you will get an e-mail confirming your eligibility for 15 hours FREE childcare and education

5. You will then need to find a childminder, playgroup or nursery place from our approved List of Two Year Old Childcare ProvidersYou may be able to get a place with a childminder, nursery, playgroup, children’s centre and even some school nurseries

6. Give the reference number and/or a copy of the confirmation e-mail to your childcare provider so that they can inform us of your child(ren)s place

If you have applied online and have a question, please phone 020 8820 7488 or email with details of your name, child’s name and date of birth, ideally your reference number, and contact phone number.

When can my child start?

The earliest this place will start is January, April, or September after your child’s 2nd birthday.

  • If your child was born between 1 January – 31 March funding will start in April, following your child’s second birthday
  • If your child was born between 1 April – 31 August funding will start in September, following your child’s second birthday
  • If your child was born between 1 September – 31 December funding will start in January, following your child’s second birthday

Benefits of childcare

Watch this video to hear how parents and carers feel that childcare has helped them and their child. 

Early childhood education is an excellent way to shape a child's confidence and curiosity before attending school. It provides an opportunity to learn, play and make new friends.


Hackney Family Information Services

020 8820 7590
This page was last modified on: 29 Jan 2021