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15 hours funded childcare for 2 year olds

Funded childcare for 2 year olds is changing from April 2024. There will be two schemes available with different criteria and application routes.

Find out more about the upcoming changes to childcare support on the Childcare Choices website.

Some families may qualify for both, but only one can be claimed so the parent must choose. If you believe you qualify for both, it is recommended that you choose the low-income route. This is because once funding is in place, it remains in place until your child is age-eligible for their universal entitlement, and application deadlines do not apply.

15 hours funded childcare for low-income families - disadvantaged entitlement

Parent or carers of 2 year old children who receive one of the following benefits can apply online or download the application form:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment Support Allowance
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • Working tax credit 4 week run-on
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less before tax, not including benefit payments

You must supply supporting evidence if applying under the following criteria: 

  • Children who attract Disability Living Allowance, please provide a recent copy of the letter showing the benefit to support your application
  • Children who have left care through a special guardianship, adoption or child arrangement order

Please email the below supporting evidence to when you have submitted your online application. 

If you’re a non-UK citizen who cannot claim benefits

If your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF), you may still get free childcare for your 2-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
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments. We will require a photo of your Biometric Residence Permit or your "share code" to check your immigration status online and evidence of income such as a pay slip or P60 for you and your partner, if applicable.

Please send supporting information by email to

Other eligible groups of children

  • Children who have an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • Children looked after by the local authority

Referrals under this section must be made by a professional third party such as a social worker, health professional or practitioner. Parents cannot self-refer. Additional information may be requested. Please apply by downloading the application form and return via email to

15 hours funded childcare for working families - from April 2024

2 year olds of working parents may be entitled to 570 hours per year funded childcare from April 2024. This is known as the working parent entitlement. 

Eligible families can receive up to 15 hours funded per week for their child over 38 weeks of the year, term-time, or approximately 11 hours per week, each week of the year. The offer is not 15 hours funded each week of the year. 

Parents must apply through HMRC for the working parent entitlement. Applications opened on 2nd January 2024 for April 2024 start, for children with a date of birth between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022. We recommend you apply between mid-January and the end of February to receive your code in good time. 

If you already receive Tax Free Childcare, you will be able to apply during your next reconfirmation window before 31st March, if your reconfirmation window is after this date, please contact the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Please note: All application queries must be directed to HMRC. Please call 0300 123 4097 to speak to HMRC’s Childcare Service helpline. 

 Application deadlines for the working parent entitlement

There are application deadlines in place for the extended entitlement.

We strongly advise parents to apply well in advance of deadlines shown below as some applications can take 14 days to be resolved. If a code is not issued by the start of a funding period, the child will have to wait until the following funding period before they can take up the extended entitlement, as set out below:

Deadlines for 15 hours working parent entitlement for 2 year olds

If a child turns 2 between

A code must be issued by HMRC before midnight on

If the parent wants the child to start 15 hours funded childcare from

1 April and 31 August

31 August

1 September

1 September and 31 December

31 December

1 January

1 January and 31 March

31 March

1 April

If the child is already 2, the same principle applies that 15 hours funded childcare cannot begin until the funding period following successful application.

Funding periods for 15 hours working parents entitlement for 2 year olds

Application made and code issued between

Earliest start date for 30 hours

1 April and 31 August

1 September

1 September and 31 December

1 January

1 January and 31 March

1 April

Confirming your eligibility

Every 3 months, parents will be asked to confirm that they are still eligible. You can confirm your eligibility again by logging into your childcare account on GOV.UK.

If the parent is no longer eligible for 15 hours working parent entitlement or they have missed the deadline for reconfirming their eligibility, the government has provided a 'grace period', a period of time when the child can continue to receive 15 hours working parent entitlement. Once the grace period ends, if the parent remains ineligible, the entitlement will finish.

If a parent applied very early, they may need to confirm that they are still eligible before the child has started their 15 hour place. If a parent receives an ineligible response when they reconfirm, or if they do not reconfirm in time before the child has begun accessing their 15 hours funded childcare, the grace period does not apply.

Validity start dates

The validity start date shown on the code issued by HMRC is the date the code was issued, not the date the child can start accessing 15 hours working parent entitlement. Validity start dates can be confusing for parents as they are not issued with an explanation about when the child could actually start.

You should take your code to your chosen childcare provider as soon as possible to book your place. Your childcare provider will then start the process with the council to validate your code.

Qualifying criteria

Your child must be the right age to receive 15 hours funded working parent entitlement, even if the code shows an earlier validity start date:

Birthday eligibility for 15 hours funded working parent entitlement

A children who turns 2 on or between

Will be eligible for the working parent entitlement from

1 April and 31 August

1 September following their 2nd birthday

1 September and 31 December

1 January following their 2nd birthday

1 January and 31 March

1 April following their 2nd birthday

To be eligible for the working parent entitlement, both parents, or for single parent families the sole parent, must:

  • Each expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage for your age.

Where a parent is in a 'start-up period', for example they are newly self-employed, they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.

Both parents, or for single parent families, the sole parent must also:

  • Live in England
  • Expect to have an income of less than £100,000 each a year.

If one or both parents are unemployed, they must become employed within 31 days of applying.

There are some exceptions, and families will also be eligible if both parents are employed but one parent, or both parents, are:

  • temporarily away from the workplace on maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave
  • temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay
  • are temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if they are in the military and on duty

Or if:

One parent is employed or self-employed and one parent gets one or more of the following benefits:

  • Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capacity for work
  • If the parent has been assessed as having limited capacity for work for Universal Credit purposes

Parents are not eligible if:

  • They are in receipt of a childcare grant
  • They are a full time student or an intern
  • They are not entitled to receive public funds

Further information about childcare costs

We would recommend parents complete the government's childcare calculator tool to find out what financial help could be available to them to support with childcare costs.

For more details about all government schemes, visit the Childcare Choices website.