Free early education and childcare for two year olds

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30 percent of of all two year olds in Waltham Forest can get up to 15 hours a week of free early education and childcare.

Eligibility Click to get info

Your two year old will be eligible for free childcare and early learning if your family gets one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits, and you have an income of under £16,190 before tax
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit, and you have an annual net earned income equivalent not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three your most recent Universal Credit assessment periods
  • Zambrano carer (derivative right to reside in the UK under European law as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult)
  • Leave to remain with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) granted on family or private life (Article 8) grounds
  • Been refused asylum in the UK and receiving support from the Home Office under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you’re not receiving any benefits, your two year old can get free childcare and early learning if they:

  • have a statement of special educational needs (SEN statement)
  • have an education, health and care plan (EHC Plan)
  • get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • are looked after by a local authority in England or Wales (‘in care’)
  • have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order in England or Wales

If your child has special educational needs, a disability, or has been in care, please contact our Childcare team.

We will be able to confirm if you’re eligible and give you a code, which you can give to your chosen childcare provider to claim the free childcare.

You can search for childcare providers.

To assess your child's eligibility for a 2 year old Free Early Education place, please contact our childcare team


Childcare team
Phone: 020 8496 3566

Eligible two-year olds can start receiving their entitlement the term after their second birthday. The table below shows when your child will be able to start their free place.

For children born between

Two year funding starts from

1 September to 31 December   

Spring term - January

1 January to 31 March

Summer term - April

1 April to 31 August

Autumn term – September

Eligible two year olds are entitled to 570 hours of free early education per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year (split into three terms).

However, if your child‘s provider is open all year round, such as a day nursery, the free hours will be spread equally over those weeks. For example, if your child attends a provider that is open for 50 weeks a year, they will receive 11 hours a week.

National limits
National limits are set by the government about how the free sessions can be offered meaning that:

  • no session can be longer than 10 hours
  • no session can be shorter than 2.5 hours
  • a maximum of 15 hours per week can be taken over a minimum of two days
  • you can use your free childcare during the weekends as well

You can discuss with the provider how your free hours can be taken. Some may offer set days and times, whereas others may be more flexible. If needed, you can purchase additional hours of childcare.

A variety of childcare providers can offer free early education and childcare for two-year-olds*, including:

  • day nurseries
  • pre-schools or playgroups
  • childminders
  • nursery schools
  • nursery classes in primary schools

A listing of childcare providers offering funded spaces can be found here on the Waltham Forest Directory.

Search for childcare providers on Ofsted

Parents interested in a free early education and childcare place for their child in a nursery school or nursery class in a primary school should contact the school’s headteacher directly.

Please note: Taking up a nursery place at a school does not guarantee a reception or Year 1 place at that school. There is a completely separate admissions procedure for reception and Year 1 classes in a school.

If you need help finding a childcare space, please contact the Childcare Team at or call 020 8496 3566.

*In order to ensure the quality and safety of your child’s free early education provision, in addition to having an Ofsted/DfE registration, a provider who wishes to deliver free early education entitlement (FEEE) places must be issued with a contract by the Local Authority to do this.

Prior to the local authority issuing a contract to a DfE-registered school or an Ofsted-registered childcare provider to deliver FEEE places to eligible 2, 3 and 4 year olds, the local authority requires providers to demonstrate their understanding of the legal and statutory requirements they must comply with, with regards to planning and building regulations, Health and Safety(including premises statutory compliance), Employment Law, Safeguarding and Finance by completing the relevant compliance checks.

Providers who fail to demonstrate that they have an understanding of and comply with the requirements covered by the compliance checks, will not be commissioned by the local authority as providers to deliver Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE) places to eligible 2, 3 and 4 year olds. 

The Education Support Service has produced three short videos to help you find out more about the Free Early Education Entitlement in different kinds of childcare settings.

FEEE entitlement and provision settings

Free childcare at pre-schools and maintained school nurseries

Free childcare for 2 year olds in full day care settings