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.

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits, your 2 year-old child may 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’)

You can find detailed government guidance for the extension of 2 year-old free childcare eligibility to NRPF groups on the GOV.UK website.

How to apply

Follow these six steps:

1. Wait until your child is 2 years old

2. Read our guidance on how to apply

3. Apply online via the Hackney Parent Portal providing your name, your national insurance number, date of birth, email address and other information

4. If your application is successful you will get an email confirming your eligibility for 15 hours free childcare and education including the eligibility code

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 eligibility code and/or a copy of the confirmation email to your childcare provider so that they can claim the free entitlement funding for your child

If you have applied online and have a question, please phone 020 8820 7590 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

Please note: 15 hour sessions for 2 year olds may include lunches, snacks, trips or extra classes, for example yoga or music, all of which will be chargeable. You may also want your child to attend for additional hours which will also be chargeable at the providers’ normal hourly rate. These additional costs must be presented clearly to you and agreed prior to your child starting at the setting.

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 Service (FIS)

020 8820 7000 option 6
This page was last modified on: 8 May 2022