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Free early education for two-year-olds

Some two-year-olds in the borough can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year.

It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

The free early education and childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider

  • starts from the term after your child’s second birthday. 

Who is eligible

Your two-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you live in England and get one of the following:

If you're getting benefits

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance (not eligible if on contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance)
  • income-related employment and support allowance (not eligible if on contribution-based employment support allowance)
  • universal credit – if you and your partner have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
  • tax credits (with an annual income of under £16,190 before tax)
  • the guaranteed element of state pension credit
  • working tax credit four-week run-on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for working tax credit).

If you’re getting any of the above benefits, click the link below to apply for free childcare.

Extended criteria

Your child can also get free childcare if any of the following apply:

To apply under the extended criteria please:

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 and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are awaiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • 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 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')

How the childcare is delivered

Providers usually deliver the 15 hours across:

  • 14 weeks in the autumn term

  • 12 weeks in the spring term

  • 12 weeks in the summer term.

When your child can start

Eligible children can get the free hours in the term following their second birthday.

Find a childcare provider

See a list of Lewisham childcare providers.