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Free childcare places for two year olds

Can I get a free two-year-old place for my child?

To check if you might be eligible, simply complete the online eligibility form:

Apply for childcare places

  • Contact the Early Years Funding team on 01244 973930

To help the Early Years Funding team to check your eligibility you will need to provide your name, date of birth and national insurance number as well as the name and date of birth of your child.

If you are eligible

You will be eligible if your child is 2 years old and you are in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (with an annual net earned income below £15,400). If you are part of a couple we may have to ask you for your last three most recent Universal Credit online statements or your entitlement letters from Universal Credit, so we can check your monthly take home pay is below the threshold.

Or if you have a total annual household (you and your partner) income below £16,190 and receive:

  • Income support. 
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance.
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Working Tax Credits.

Or if your child:

  • Looked after by the Council (is in foster care etc).
  • Has been adopted from care or has left care through special guardianship.
  • Are subject to a child arrangement/residence order setting out with whom the child is to live.
  • Has a statement of current statement of special educational needs.
  • Has a current education health and care plan.
  • Currently receives Disability Living Allowance

Or where your partner or both of you are currently serving in the Armed Forces.

For eligible families the next step is to contact a Children's Centre in your area to arrange an appointment with an Early Years Worker. They can help you find a childcare provider in your area. They will also give you a free bookstart pack and tell you about all the great activities you can access in the Children's Centre.  Further information about Children's Centres in Cheshire West can be found on the Starting Well website.

If you are not eligible

The online application process will display red cross and a message saying: Unfortunately you are not eligible. This means that the eligibility checker has been unable to find a match to your details to records held on families on low incomes and eligibility benefits.

If you think that you should be entitled, it would be worth checking with the Benefits team that your details are up to date, especially if you have only recently been awarded benefits.

Please note that Working Tax Credits count towards your overall income so can take people over the qualifying threshold of household income, which is £16,190.

When can my child start their place?

Depending on when your child turns two they should be able to start a place as listed below:

starting times free childcare places
Child turns two on or between Child can start their place:
1 January - 31 March at the start of the summer term (usually April/May)
1 April - 31 August  at the start of the autumn term (usually September)
1 September - 31 December at the start of the spring term (usually January)

What will my child and I gain from taking a free two-year-old place?

Your child will receive 15 hours a week of playing, painting, reading, cooking,climbing, singing, dancing, dressing up, running around, building, gardening or whatever they like doing. But most of all, your child is learning with other children.

You will have 15 hours a week for you to have a break, get stuff done at home, study or look for work.

How does the place work?

Eligible two year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours a week (570 hours in a year). You will be able to take up these hours during the school term up to 38 weeks or flexibly during the year over 50 weeks (across the schools holidays) but this will depend on what is available at the childcare provider where you choose to take your place.

You cannot take more than ten hours in one day, and fifteen hours must be taken over at least two days.You can split your place across two different childcare providers, taking some hours with one setting and the remaining hours with another setting.

Where to find help?

If you need information, advice or guidance about childcare, free nursery places and benefits available to you, contact the Information Advice and Support Service:

  • Telephone: 0300 123 7001 (Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm)

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