Free childcare for two year olds - 'The free childcare scheme really helps me, I just wish I'd used it earlier!' Carol Walsh - Up to 570 hours a year

Many two-year-old children in Southampton are entitled to a free childminder, preschool or nursery place for up to 15 hours a week in the term after their second birthday.

If you receive a postcard with a reference number, please find a childcare or education provider which you would like your child to attend and contact them directly quoting your reference number.

If you have not been sent a postcard, you can still find out if you qualify.

Find a preschool, nursery or childminder in Southampton

The places give children the chance to:

  • Be around children their own age
  • Take part in play-based activities which they may not be able to do at home
  • Be in a warm and caring environment supervised by experienced staff.

The education and childcare providers that we use are approved by us and Ofsted. Their staff are committed to working in partnership with parents to ensure that children’s needs are met, which includes providing any help that is required with language skills and specific development needs.

Parents have the option to take the 15 hours per week in a more flexible way to suit their individual needs. Parents should discuss this further with the provider of their choice.

To be eligible, the parents of the child must be in receipt of and able to provide proof of one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit Child tax credit or Working tax credit with an annual gross income into the household that is no more than £16,190
  • Universal Credit

Also eligible are children who:

  • Are looked after by a local council
  • Have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
  • Have an Education, Health and Care plan
  • Receive Disability Living Allowance.

If you are unable to find out if you qualify online, please go to a Sure Start centre or education or childcare provider with your National Insurance number, where a member of staff will help you.