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Are you eligible for Free Childcare for your Two-year old?

More than half of Barnsley’s two year olds are eligible for up to 15 hours a week free early education in a Family Centre, Day Nursery, Preschool or with a Childminder.

That's FREE childcare hours for you- to have a break, get a few things done at home, spend time with your other children, study, work or start to look for employment.

Did you know that research shows that high quality early education at two brings benefits to children’s development and helps children prepare for school.

The DfE (Department for Education) asked families to comment on how accessing the childcare offer had helped. Families said :

"I would say that my little one has really benefitted since starting, her speech has really improved" (Mother of 2)

"I love spending time with all my kids but free childcare means that i can do things whilst they are looked after" (Father)

"Since starting my daughter is more caring and able to share a lot more, I think its because before she was used to being a home with me all the time"(Mum of 4).

What is the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible you must be claiming one of the following:

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act

  • Tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 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)

  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usuallly means a combined income of less than £15,400 a yesar after tax)

 Two year olds are also entitled to a place if:

1: They get Disability Living Allowance

2: They are looked after by a local council

3: They have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education health and care plan

4: They have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

Please note: If you are applying under criteria 1, 2, 3 or 4 you will not apply online. To apply you should contact Families Information Service by email :  or ring  0800 0345 340. We are open Monday to Thursday 9am -5pm . Fridays 9am -4:30pm  

By completing the application you can quickly find out if your child is eligible. It’s quick and easy to apply and you will recieve an answer straight away.

When do I apply?

The best time to apply is the term in which your child is 2 year old, or the week when your child has their 2nd birthday. If you apply too early it will show as 'not found' or 'unsuccessful'.

What do I do if I'm eligble?

If you are eligible, on the screen you will see a box that says 'Download your voucher'. Click on the box and you will see a confirmation letter. This is the letter you will need to give to the childcare provider so that they can claim the funding to pay for your childcare. You can either "screenshot" the confirmation letter and email it to your childcare provider or print it and pass to your childcare provider.

If you are eligible you MUST download and save the confirmation voucher straight away- No link will be available in your follow up email for you to be able to access the voucher at a later time.

What if I'm unsuccessful or if it says not found?

If your application shows as ‘Unsuccessful’ or 'Not Found' you can refer your application as part of the process to Families Information Service (FIS).

You will see a box that says 'Refer your information' .Don't worry you may still be eligible you may need to provide some additional information. We will contact you.

When can my child start and how is the funding paid?

The best time to apply is the term in which your child is 2 . If you apply too early it will show as 'not found' or 'unsucessful' .

If your child is eligible the funding will be paid directly to the childcare setting and will depend on when their birthday is.

If your child’s 2nd birthday is between:

1 January to 31 March they can start the beginning of the Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August they can start the beginning of the Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December they can start the beginning of the Spring term on or after 1 January

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ's)

Please keep visiting this section , we will keep adding to the FAQ's information that will be useful to families. 

Question: Ive just got a job, what happens with my childcare funding?

Answer: Once you have your confirmation ticket, if your circumstances change you are still entitled to the childcare funding. It is viewed that the support with childcare costs has helped you to get a job.  

Question: I want to move childcare settings, I've found a new setting , What do I do?

Answer: You must make your current childcare provider know that you no longer want your child to attend their setting. The childcare provider should give you back your original confirmation ticket , this is because this ticket has a unique code on that is attached to your eligiblity. You should then pass the confirmation ticket to the 'new' childcare setting so they can draw down the funding to support your childcare costs.

Question: I want my child to attend all year round not just during term time. Can I do this ?

Answer: You should talk to your childcare provider about a 'stretched offer'. This is where familes "stretch" their child’s entitlement by taking fewer hours a week over more weeks of the year.

Question: Is the funding for the childcare place only?

Answer: The 15 hours of free childcare/early education for two-year-olds is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hours place, and must be offered alternative options (extract taken from

Help with Choosing Childcare

Finding good quality childcare can be a difficult task for parents. There are different types of childcare and lots of things to look out for. If you'd like to talk to someone about your options and find out what childcare's available in your area, Families Information Service can help.

We provide free and impartial information to parents and carers of 0-25 year olds on anything and everything to do with family life, including childcare. We help lots of people looking for childcare in their area and hold information about all Ofsted registered childcare.

Families Information Service can tell you:

  • About the different types of childcare
  • Which childcare is available near to your home or work place
  • How to contact different childcare providers
  • About childcare costs
  • What support's available to reduce your childcare costs
  • Opening times of childcare settings
  • The OFSTED inspection grade of all registered settings

Families Information Service can talk you through every part of your journey and answer any questions you have.

You can also look for OFSTED registered childcare by using our Family Service Directory.

Families Information Service is completely impartial and never recommends one provider over another. We can't guarantee to find a solution to your childcare needs, but we'll explore every option with you.

Families Information Service sits within BMBC so the service we provide to families is FREE. Contact us by email or by phone 0800 0345 340

Click here to apply
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