Eligibility criteria for 2-year-old funded places

Two-year-old children will be eligible for a funded nursery place if they meet either criteria one, two, three, or four.

Criteria one: Working parents

From April 2024 working parents of 2-year-olds who qualify for extended funding may be entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare, for 38 weeks of the year (or fewer hours over more weeks).

Criteria two: Benefits

Children whose parents/carers are in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner have a combined income from work of £15,400 or less a year, after tax
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Tax credits and you have an annual income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit four-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Criteria three: Looked after children

Children looked after by the Local Authority.

Either children currently in care or children who have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order.

Social worker details are required to verify eligibility for this.

Criteria four: SEND

Children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) as defined by:

  • Children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Child with a current Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEND)
  • Child with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan

Documentation is required to verify eligibility for criteria three.

Criteria five: Other circumstances

If you are 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 two-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
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children

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

Funded two-year-old early years education online application

Check if you are eligible and apply online.


Before you fill in this form

You won't be able to save this form to complete later, so please allow yourself up to five minutes to fill in the form.

Check your child's eligibility

If you are unable to find out if you qualify online, please go to a Family Hub or you can contact the Southampton Family Information Service.