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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)
  • support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • 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 early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they are in the care of a local council
  • they have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
  • they get disability living allowance
  • they have been adopted
  • they have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order.

To apply under the extended criteria please:

How the childcare is delivered

Providers 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.