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Free early education and childcare for two year olds


There are two ways your child could be eligible for two year old free early education, please see below:

Some children aged two are entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare a week, for 38 weeks per year. Any eligible child can access a place in Gateshead. Your child might be eligible if you get any 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 £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit (or both), and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • 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:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order
  • working families (new April 2024)

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

If you're a non- UK citizen who cannot claim benefits

If your immigration status says you have 'no recourse to public funds', you may still get free childcare for your 2-year-old. You must live in England and your household income must be no more than:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments. 

Check if your child is eligible (opens new window) 

You can not apply via the portal where the eligibility is not related to income. When this is the case, please contact Gateshead Family Information Service using the contact details below.

Working families: Free childcare for 2 year olds (New 2024)

As well as families who qualify due to receiving additional government support, from April 2024, eligible working families in England will also be entitled to 15 hours free early education over 38 weeks of the year.

Some providers may allow you to stretch these hours over more weeks, using fewer hours per week.

To check if you are eligible under this new criteria, please set up or log into your Government Gateway account (opens new window) and apply for a code online. 

If you are eligible for free childcare as a working family, your code will need to be revalidated every three months. For more information please visit the Childcare Choices website (opens new window).

The Department for Education have set out these four rules

  • No session is to be longer than 10 hours
  • There is no minimum session length (providers may have their own policy)
  • A session must not start before 6am or finish after 8pm
  • A  child may access their entitlement at a maximum of two sites in a single day

Your child can start their free place at any point during the term following their second birthday. We would not recommend that they start in the last two weeks of a term. This continues until the term after their third birthday when all three and four year old children receive free early education.

Two year old free places
Child bornFree place can start
1 April to 31 AugustSeptember
1 September to 31 DecemberJanuary
1 January to 31 MarchApril

The entitlement can be taken across a maximum of two providers, provided they both agree to this. Not all providers will be able to offer flexibility and may offer a fixed pattern of hours for your child to attend.

Some providers will offer the option of having fewer hours each week over more weeks. This is often called "stretching" the entitlement.

You can take up additional hours for a charge. If your provider gives you an invoice it must also identify the free entitlement. You will not be made to pay for a uniform or a registration fee, if only attending for 15 hours.

You will be asked to agree the days and times of your child's attendance on a declaration form. You may not be able to change these until the start of the next term, and then only with the agreement of the provider. Providers often stagger children's start dates, to make starting school or nursery easier. This could mean a child may not access their full entitlement.If your child is likely to be absent for more than two weeks you must notify your childcare provider. If you don't, you may risk losing your place with that particular provider.

2 Year Old Directory April 24 (PDF) [358KB] (opens new window)

You can report a childcare provider if you have any concerns. 

Contact us

Gateshead Families Information Service 
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 5118

Send us your comments or queries