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Free early education and childcare for two year olds


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 are claiming one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support Under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Tax Credits and your household income is £16,190  a year or less before tax
  • Working Tax Credit 'run on' (payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit )
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • In March, the government temporarily extended eligibility for the free early education entitlement for the most disadvantaged two-year-old children whose parent(s) meet the following conditions for the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: The government has decided that from 1st September 2020 this extension, will be made permanent.

    a. That they are excluded from claiming public funds as a consequence of their immigration status, or their lack of immigration status; and

    b. They are in receipt of support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

Your child will be automatically eligible if they;

  • attract Disability Living allowance
  • have a current Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • are looked after by their Local Authority
  • have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order

Check if your child is eligible

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.

The hours must be spread over a minimum of two days per week. The sessions must last for at least two hours for no more than eight hours and must be between 7am-7pm.

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.

Find out which providers offer two year funded places: Icon for pdf 2 year funding directory Sept 2021 [365.34KB]

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

Contact us

Gateshead Families Information Service 
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 5118

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