Free early education (2, 3 and 4 year olds)

Two year olds - free childcare and early education

Is your child eligible? 

Some two year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare. To be eligible you must be receiving one of the following:

  • income support
  • income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • the guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income of less than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit and earning less than £16,190
  • Universal Credit 

Or your 2 year old child will be eligible if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • child who is looked after by the local authority (subject to care orders or in foster care) or a child that has left care through special guardianship, an adoption or residence order
  • they have a current statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • they receive Disability Living Allowance

What do we get?

Eligible children get 15 hours of free early education and childcare a week during term times. This is a total of 570 hours which can be stretched over a whole year to help working families with their regular childcare costs. The 15 hours is available in certain school nurseries, day nurseries, preschool playgroups and with registered childminders.

If your child is not in a nursery or childcare and your application is successful, we will send you a list of providers to choose from.

If your child is already in a nursery or childcare you should still apply but speak to the nursery manager or childminder to find out if they will be able to continue to offer your child a place with funding.

When and how to apply 

You can apply by picking up an application form at your local children's centre or completing our online application. If you want your child to attend a setting in Kingston but you don't live in the borough you can still apply.

Please use the dates below as a guide for when you should apply.

If your child's second birthday is between 1 April and 31 August, you qualify for funding:

  • from the autumn term starting in September
  • you can submit an application after 31 March

If your child's second birthday is between 1 September and 31 December, you qualify for funding:

  • from the spring term starting in January
  • you can submit an application after 31 August

If your child's second birthday is between 1 January and 31 March, you qualify for funding:

  • from the summer term starting in April
  • you can submit an application after 31 December

After submitting your application

Your application will be checked for eligibility. We will then contact you to let you know if your application has been approved.

If your application is approved we will send you an information pack and explain what to do next. 

Times and days of attendance will depend on the childcare provider’s availability.

You should not be charged for any part of the placement up to a maximum of 15 hours per week over 38 weeks (term time only). If you want additional hours you would have to request this from your childcare provider and pay for these.

Please note, eligibility checking may take several weeks to be completed. However, we will let you know in plenty of time for you to find a childcare place.

Funding in place

If your application is successful and your child is receiving his or her free early education, certain changes can affect the funding but other things won't:

 

  • if you move your child out of a Kingston setting you may need to reapply to the local authority in which your new setting might be located
  • if your income changes or you return to work, this does not change anything - your child will continue to receive the funding for two year olds until they are eligible for three year old early education funding

 

Funding for three year olds

When a child becomes three years old, they will usually move over to the funding scheme for three year olds and stay with the same provider. However in some cases this might not be possible and you may have to move to a different provider. You should check before you register with your provider to find out if your child will be able to stay for their funded place as a three year old.