Free childcare for 2-4 year olds

Funded childcare places are expanding for working families. From April 2024 some working families will now be entitled to 15 hours of funded childcare.


You may be eligible to receive 15 hours of free childcare for your two year old, for 38 weeks a year. 

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

Childcare places may be available at childminders, playgroups, nurseries or school nurseries. 

How you apply depends on your circumstances:

We explain each process in more detail below.

How to apply if you receive benefits

If you receive any of these benefits, you should be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare: 

  • Income support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Tax Credits and have an annual family income of under £16,190 before tax
  • Universal Credit and have an annual family income of under £15,400 after tax
  • Guaranteed element of State Pension
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act - NASS support
  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for 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.

2 year olds can also get free childcare if:

  • they are looked after by a local council
  • they have a current education health and care plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or residence order.

You will need to provide evidence of all the above.

Make an application

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 Providers. You 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 via the Hackney Parent Portal 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.

How to apply if you are working

To be eligible for a code for the new 2 year old entitlement, parents need to earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum wage and less than £100,000 adjusted net income per year.

Find out more about your eligibility and when to apply. Parents must reconfirm their eligibility with Childcare Choices every 3 months.

Make an application

Go to GOV.UK to claim a code. 

This code will need to be shared with your childcare provider to prove that you are eligible. 

Parents will be able to complete an application 16 weeks before their child turns two. If they apply before this time, they will only be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

How to apply if you have no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

If you are a non UK citizen and cannot claim benefits you will be able to get free childcare for your 2 year old as long as your household income is no more than:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children

Families also cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments. Please email for an application form and if you have any questions.

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

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 Service (FIS)

020 8820 7000 option 6 or 020 8820 7590
This page was last modified on: 27 Jun 2024