Early learning and childcare places

Apply for funded early learning: 2-year-olds

Usually children start nursery when they are 3 or 4, but some 2-year-olds are also eligible to attend. If your child was born between 1st March 2021 and 28th February 2022 and meet the qualifying criteria, they are entitled to a free nursery place in the school term 2023/24:

Nursery places are not renewed automatically and you need to enrol your child each year.

2-year-olds who qualify

Depending on what happens first, your child becomes eligible for free nursery place from after their second birthday or when you, their parent, or carer meet the conditions.

Your 2-year-old is eligible if you receive one of the qualifying benefits and allowances:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit, and your income is £19,995 or less
  • Child tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and your income is £9,552 or less
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit and your household take-home pay, is £796 a month or less

Children are also entitled if: 

  • they are looked after and accommodated
  • they are under a kinship or guardianship order 
  • their parent/carer was a care experienced child

Apply for a place

The registration period for session 2024/25 will open from 22nd January to 2nd February 2024. If you need to apply for a place for the current 2023/24 term please email

You can either enrol your child after they turn 2 or when you start receiving qualifying benefits.

Parents/carers need to contact our Early Years team first so we can verify that your child is eligible. For 2-year-olds places are allocated centrally which is why we ask you to contact our Early Years team regardless of the setting of your choice (council nursery or funded provider).

The team will advise what to include when you apply as it will differ depending on the support you receive. They will give you an application form to complete and return to them with:

  • evidence of the qualifying benefits that you receive
  • your child’s original birth certificate 
  • proof of address such as recent utility bill or bank statement

If your child has additional support needs, please let us know when you apply.

Find out how we process applications.