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FREE Childcare for 2 year olds in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or have an Education Health and Care Plan

All Two Year Olds who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) are eligible to receive up to 15 hours FREE childcare a week to use in an Early Years setting such as a Nursery or with a Childminder.


How will this benefit my child?

Childcare is good for children. Research has shown that good quality early education can:

  • Improve children’s development, for example their communication skills
  • Help them learn to socialise with other children and make friends
  • Help them begin to get ready for school
  • Give them access to exciting places to play and new activities

Childcare is also good for families:

  • It can give you some time for yourself, a bit more time to spend with your other children, take up a college course, or go back to work
  • You can also pick up ideas of what to do with your child at home and how you can help them grow and learn

What does the funding pay for?

  • The funding will pay for childcare for up to 15 hours a week (38 weeks of the year) - That’s 15 hours of playing, painting, reading, cooking, climbing, singing, dancing, dressing-up, running around, building, gardening... whatever your child likes doing
  • It is not required that the full 15 hours a week are taken up straight away, they can be built up slowly over the year
  • It may also be possible to stretch the free hours over 50 weeks of the year, if your chosen childcare provider is open all year round (stretched offer). If you would like to consider a stretched offer, you can discuss this with your childcare provider.

Sometimes a child may need additional funding to provide 1:1 support or any specialist equipment. The childcare provider can apply for an Inclusion Grant to help meet your child's needs whilst accessing the funding.

The funded place will last until your child reaches the term after their third birthday when they become eligible for universal FREE childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

How do I apply?

You can apply in the term that your child turns two and funding will begin on the first day of the term following their second birthday. The following terms will usually determine when the funding will start:

  • Child who becomes two years old on or before 31 March – funding from 1 April
  • Child who becomes two years old on or before 31 August – funding from 1 September
  • Child who becomes two years old on or before 31 December – funding from 1 January

As you will be applying under special criteria, you should NOT apply online. Instead, you will need to provide evidence that your child is in reciept of Disability Living Allowance or that they have an Education, Health and Care Plan.


What kind of evidence can I use?

You can use the most recent copy of your child's Disability Living Allowance Entitlement or Education, Health and Care Plan as evidence to apply for a funded place.

You will need to take your evidence to your local Family Centre where they will take a copy and securely email it to the Families Information Service for processing. You will also need to provide your full name, address and contact details such as telephone number and email address as well as your child's full name and date of birth.

You do not need an appointment but it is worthwhile telephoning the Family Centre first to ensure that they are open.

What happens next?

When your information has been processed, a confirmation voucher will be sent to the email address you provided as proof of your child's eligibility.

You can then print this voucher and take it to the childcare provider of your choice.

The nursery or childminder will be able to discuss with you when your child can begin their funding and whether any additional needs should be met such as in a care plan.  

Where can I find a childcare provider who will support my child?

You can use our directory to find a nursery or childminder that offers two year old funded places:

  • The blue button under the "Early Years and Childcare" tile will take you through to a list of nurseries and childminders.
  • Use the subfilter "offering funded places for" and click "2 year olds"
  • You can also click the green button above the list to "show results on map"

On each childcare provider record, you can read their Local Offer at the bottom of the page where they explain what specialist training, experience and expertise they have relevant to special educational needs and disabilities.

If you need any help in finding a childcare provider or you are unsure of where to start, you can contact the Families Information Service on 0800 0345 340 or email

Can I still apply if my child doesn't get DLA or have an EHCP?

You may still be eligible under the economic criteria and must be getting 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 year after tax)

For further information and to apply online click here.

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