Free early education and childcare for two year olds
Almost half of all two year olds in Waltham Forest can get up to 15 hours a week of free early education and childcare.
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
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 find a childcare provider here.
If you need help to apply for a childcare space, please contact our 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 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 the free early education and childcare for two-year-olds, including:
- day nurseries
- pre-schools or playgroups
- nursery schools
- nursery classes in primary schools
Details of childcare providers offering two year old funded spaces can be found here on the Waltham Forest Directory.
If you need help finding a childcare space, please contact the childcare team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8496 3566.
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.