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Free Childcare for 2 Year Olds

The Early Learning Programme (ELP) for 2-Year-Olds is a Government initiative that provides free childcare places for eligible 2-year-olds. Eligible children will be entitled up to 15 hours per week of free early education for a total of 38 weeks. Free places are available in participating childcare providers across the city.

Are you Eligible?

By clicking on the link below you can quickly check whether your child is eligible for a free place. It takes only a few minutes and you'll get an answer straight away. If eligible you will be able to download a confirmation letter, which you can take to participating Childcare providers to claim a free place for your child.

button to apply for a childcare place


If you are a childcare provider applying on behalf of a parent, please click here.

Search here for childcare providers (Search result opens in new window)

Eligibility Criteria

The child must live in the Nottingham City Council Area.

If you are a Nottinghamshire County Council resident, please click here.

To be entitled to a funded 2-year-old place, the parent/carer must be in receipt of one or more of the following benefits or qualifying criteria:

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • Your Tax Credit and household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax.

  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

  • Universal Credit - and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after-tax, not including benefit payments.

  • Parents are not eligible where they claim working tax credits and child tax credits at the same time.

Children are also entitled to a place if:

  • Child is looked after by the Local Authority (e.g. foster care)

  • The child has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

  • The child attracts Disability Living Allowance

  • The child has left care through special guardianship, an Adoption Order or a child arrangements order.

Your child will be entitled to a free place from the school term after their 2nd birthday.

If your child's 2nd birthday falls between

They will be entitled to their free place from

1st April to 31st August

 1st September

1st September to 31st December

 1st January

1st January to 31st March

 1st April

Please note: our system will only allow applications to be submitted up to 16 weeks before the term in which the child would be entitled to start their free place (see dates in the table above). If it is more than 16 weeks before the term start date then you will not be able to proceed with your application. Please apply at a later date in this instance.

Parents, carers or guardians of children who belong to one of the groups listed below and where they meet equivalent income requirements will also be eligible for a free early education place.

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

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)

  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after-tax, and you have either:

  • leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds

  • support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan

  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)

If your circumstances fall into one of the groups described above, you can apply for a place by completing an application form (click here to download) or call the Families Information Service team on 0800 458 4114.

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

Contact your childcare provider or the Families Information Service (on 0800 458 4114) to find out more.

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