Free childcare places for two-year-olds

A promotional video has been put together to give an overview of the Two-Year-Old Early Education Offer

Is your child approaching their 2nd birthday?

They may be eligible for a free part-time place in a high quality childcare setting (nursery or childminder) from the term following their 2nd birthday.

When is my child eligible?

If your child’s 2nd birthday falls between 1 January – 31 March, they will become entitled to a free place from the start of the Summer Term (April.

If your child’s 2nd birthday falls between 1 April – 31 August, they will become entitled to a free place from the start of the Autumn Term (September).

If your child’s 2nd birthday falls between 1 September – 31 December, they will become entitled to a free place from the start of the Spring Term (January).
For up to date closing dates for each term please visit:

Please note: Knowsley providers will only be able to start your child at the beginning of each term, eg September, January or April.

Two-year-old early learning education offer

The Childcare/Family Information Service/ Early Years Centre, your Health Visiting Team or Social Worker  can discuss with you the benefits of your child taking up a free part-time childcare place in either a nursery or with a childminder.

  • Places will be provided in local childcare settings. 
  • All providers will have received a good or outstanding Ofsted report. 
  • All childcare providers participate in Knowsley Council’s Quality Assurance Scheme.

Your child can attend 15 hours per week over 38 weeks (school term times) or 11½ hours per week spread over 50 weeks including school holidays.  Please note, you must use the free place at least 2 days per week, for between 2.5 - 10 hours on each day.

Who is eligible to be considered for a free place?

Your two-year-old can get free childcare if you live in England and receive one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • ​Parents are eligible for the two-year-old entitlement if their incomes is 16,190 a year or less, and:
    •  They are in receipt of child tax credit but not working tax credit
    • They are in receipt of working tax credit but not child tax credit
    • They are in receipt of the working tax credit 4 week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

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

  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

 Two-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  •  are children who are looked after by the local authority
  • have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

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

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

 Your two-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 (under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 - 'the 1999 Act')

 A two-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’)
    • The carer must not be a British citizen or an exempt person
    • The child must be a British citizen
    • The carer must be a direct relative or legal guardian of the child (as defined in the Home Office guidance at pages 44-45)
    • They must have primary responsibility for the care of the child (primary care can be shared between two relatives)
    • There are no other members of their family in the UK or EEA who could look after the child
    • Parents who are Zambrano carers or who have leave to remain with NRPF, must also be able to demonstrate that they have a low income.

Children offered a place will be registered with the Early Years Service and families will be able to benefit from a range of services within their local centres.

Children who are accessing a two-year-old place will then move automatically onto their three-year-old funded entitlement in either a private and voluntary nursery, childminder or school, which is available for a maximum of 15 hours a week. This transition will be carefully planned and managed to meet each child’s individual needs.
How to apply for your child’s free place
You can apply online now at Knowsley Parent Portal, if you have any questions about your application or need support please contact our Early Years Placement Officer on 0151 443 5633, please note you need to create a separate application for each individual child you wish to claim for.
When you have completed your online form if it is successful, you should receive confirmation and a code by email once your application has been processed, you will then be able to take this code to the childcare provider of your choice.
Please note that places will only be made to settings within Knowsley, if you wish to apply outside the borough you must contact that local authority. 

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