Free Childcare for 2 year olds explained – who is entitled and how to claim it

free childcare for 2 year olds explained
8th February 2024

UK Government has introduced free childcare measures for some 2 year olds from April 2024.

This article explains what new childcare support measures are introduced for working parents of children under the age of 5  in England in 2024 and how to apply for new funding.

New childcare support measures

Currently in England children aged 3 & 4 are entitled to 15 hours a week (for 38 weeks a year) of free childcare with a registered provider. Working parents can have this provision extended to 30 hours per week (for 38 weeks a year).

From April 2024, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours childcare support. From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to eligible working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3-year-olds.

From September 2025, eligible working parents with a child from 9 months old up to school age will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week (for 38 weeks a year). 

How free hours can be used

If your child is attending a Clarence House Day Nursery, these hours can be used per week for 38 weeks of the year (during school term time). In some of our nurseries, you may be able to use your hours for up to 52 weeks if you use fewer than your total hours per week. Check with your nursery manager to find out if this is something your nursery offers.

What will Clarence House Day Nurseries be offering?

CHDN will not be limiting applications. This means that if we have spaces available in our nurseries then you can sign up to use all your funded hours with us.

Who is eligible for the new childcare support

You need to meet the eligibility criteria before you can claim 15 hours free childcare.

You must live in England to apply for free childcare. The main criteria for your eligibility are:

  • your child’s age and circumstances
  • whether you’re working (employed, self-employed, or a director)
  • your income (and your partner’s income, if you have one)
  • your immigration status

Your income

Over the next 3 months you and your partner (if you have one) must each expect to earn at least:

  • £2,167 if you’re aged 23 or over
  • £2,117 if you’re aged 21 or 22
  • £1,557 if you’re aged 18 to 20
  • £1,098 if you’re under 18 or an apprentice

This is the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average.

NB: Please note that National Minimum Wage and Living Wage are due to increase in April 2024 which will increase these above figures. 

How to access new free childcare measures?

If you are eligible for this new funding of 15 hours of free childcare, you need to apply online on to receive a special code that you’ll need to provide us with to claim the funding on your behalf.for your nursery.

You’ll need to make sure you have the following information to hand before starting the application:

  • your national insurance number (or unique taxpayer reference if you are self-employed)
  • the date you started or are due to start work
  • details of any government support or benefits you receive
  • the UK birth certificate reference number (if you have one) for your child.

Applications are open from now until 31 March. If you miss the deadline you won’t be able to start using the new entitlements from 1 April. We encourage all parents to apply as soon as possible once they have received their code.

You can claim your free hours the term after your child turns the qualifying age. For example:

Age  First term they can claim free hours
If your child has or is turning 2 before 31st March 2024  You can claim free hours from April 2024 (Summer term) 
If your child is at least 9 months before 31st August 2024 You can claim free hours from September 2024 (Autumn term)
If your child turns 9 months between 1st September 2024 and 31st December 2024  You can claim free hours from January 2025 (Spring term)

You can apply for your code in the term before they are eligible, so if your child is not eligible for free hours until the Spring term (January 2025) you must wait until the Autumn term (September 2024) to apply. 

What happens once I receive my code?

Contact us with your code, along with your National Insurance Number and your child’s date of birth. We will give you a funding form to complete, discuss the sessions in which you would like to use your funded hours and process the code to provide your free place.

Then all that’s left to do is reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months via the government portal. Failure to do this may result in the removal of your free hours, so make sure you set yourself reminders. 

Useful articles:

Government UK – How to claim 15 hours free childcare including how to get your code –

Government UK – Check you’re eligible for free childcare if you’re working –


Government UK – Apply for free childcare if you’re working –