Money Wellness
A young child playing at nursery
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calendar icon17 Jan 2024

It’s time to apply for 15 free hours of childcare for 2 year olds

Are you a working parent of a two year old? Now’s the time to apply for 15 hours a week of free childcare starting in April.

Although it was possible to apply from the beginning of January, the government advised parents to wait until the middle of the month. This is because the system requires you to reconfirm you’re still eligible for free childcare every three months. Waiting until now means you won’t need to reconfirm before taking up a place in April.

Don’t leave it too late!

As long as you apply before the end of February, everything should be sorted in plenty of time. But parents have been warned not to leave it too late. Once you’ve filled in the application form, providing you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a code to give to your chosen childcare provider. It’s a good idea to make sure you leave plenty of time to receive your code.

Who is eligible for free childcare?

To qualify for the free childcare for two year olds:

  • you and your partner, if you have one, must expect to earn at least £167 per week on average
  • you and your partner, if you have one, must each earn less than £100,000
  • you and your partner, if you have one, must have national insurance numbers
  • you must have British or Irish citizenship; settled or pre-settled status (or be waiting for a decision); or permission to access public funds (your UK residence card will show if you have this)

My parents look after my child. Can they have the money to cover their costs? 

Unfortunately not. The free hours can be used at any formal childcare provider – such as nurseries, playgroups and childminders. But informal providers, such as grandparents, can’t get in on the action.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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