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Free childcare places for 2-year-olds

A promotional video has been put together to give an overview of the Two Year Old Early Education Offer


Is your child approaching their 2nd birthday?

They may be eligible for a free part-time place in a high quality childcare setting (nursery or childminder) from the term following their 2nd birthday.

When is my child eligible?

  • If your child’s 2nd birthday falls between 1 January – 31 March, they will become entitled to a free place from the start of the Summer Term (after Easter). 
  • If your child’s 2nd birthday falls between 1 April – 31 August, they will become entitled to a free place from the start of the Autumn Term (early September).
  • If your child’s 2nd birthday falls between 1 September – 31 December, they will become entitled to a free place from the start of the Spring Term (early January).

Two year old early learning education offer.

The Childcare Information Service or your Health Visiting Team, Social Worker or local Children’s Centre can discuss with you the benefits of your child taking up a free part-time childcare place in either a nursery or with a childminder.

  • Places will be provided in local childcare settings.  
  • All providers will have received a good or outstanding Ofsted report.  
  • All childcare providers participate in Knowsley Council’s Quality Assurance Scheme. 

Your child can attend 15 hours per week over 38 weeks (school term times) or 11½ hours per week spread over 50 weeks including school holidays.  Please note, you must use the free place at least 2 days per week, for between 2.5 - 10 hours on each day.

Who is eligible to be considered for a free place?

Your 2-year-old can get free childcare if you live in England and receive one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

2-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

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 waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • been refused asylum in the UK (under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 - 'the 1999 Act')

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 under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)
    • The carer must not be a British citizen or an exempt person
    • The child must be a British citizen
    • The carer must be a direct relative or legal guardian of the child (as defined in the Home Office guidance at pages 44-45)
    • They must have primary responsibility for the care of the child (primary care can be shared between two relatives) 
    • There are no other members of their family in the UK or EEA who could look after the child
    • Parents who are Zambrano carers or who have leave to remain with NRPF, must also be able to demonstrate that they have a low income.


Children offered a place will automatically be registered with the local Children’s Centre and families will be able to benefit from a range of services available there.

Children who are accessing a two year old place will then move automatically onto their three year old funded entitlement in either a private and voluntary nursery, childminder or school, which is available for a maximum of 15 hours a week. This transition will be carefully planned and managed to meet each child’s individual needs.

How to apply for your child’s free place

Health Visiting Teams                , Social Workers, Family Support Workers, Children’s Centres, Childcare Providers and Special Education needs/Disability Link Workers can provide advice about how this may benefit your child and how to apply for a place and where possible your preferred choice of provider.

If you need help contacting your Health Visiting Team, local Children’s Centre Team or Social Worker, or would like any further information, call the Knowsley Early Years Family Information Service on 0800 085 2022 (option 1) or 0151 443 5635/5692.

Once your application has been completed, a member of the Early Years team will check your eligibility against the criteria listed above and will inform you of the result.