Early learning is good for children. Its fun, safe and can help with children's talking and listening skills. Your child may be eligible for free childcare of up to 15 hours per week, for 38 weeks of the year (or an equivalent amount) from the term after their 2nd birthday.

2nd birthday between Becomes eligible from
1 April and 31 August Start of Autumn Term
1 September and 31 December Start of Spring Term
1 January and 31 March Start of Summer Term


You can apply online or contact your childcare priovider for an application form.

  Apply for free childcare

Once we have received your application we will check that your child is eligible to claim the funding. We will then write to you to confirm this.

Frequently asked questions

To receive the free entitlement for 2 year olds the child must be in a family who receive one of the following benefits:

Benefits that are currently eligible for free childcare for 2 year olds

  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child tax credit (without working tax credit) and an annual income below £16,190
  • Guaranteed element of pension credit
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit and have annual gross earnings of £16,190 or less
  • The child has a current statement of Special Educational Needs or an education, health and care plan
  • The child receives Disability Living Allowance
  • The child is looked after by the Local Authority or has left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order
  • Universal Credit with an net earned household income of less than £15,400 per year (Your net earned income is your household income after taxes and deductions. It does not include income through Universal Credit or other benefits that you may receive)

The government has extended eligibility for the most disadvantaged two year old children to include three additional groups of children from September 2019.

The new groups of children to be entitled to a funded place are:

Children of Zambrano Carers;

  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private/family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • Children of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’)

The children of Zambrano Carers will be entitled if their parents meet similar low level income requirements to others eligible for the scheme (e.g. £15,400 net earnings threshold for families in receipt of Universal Credit)

  • Children whose families have a right to be here on Article 8 grounds with no recourse to public funds and who meet the same criteria of economic disadvantage. We are also extending eligibility to children whose families receive support under section 4 of the 1999 Act because they are temporarily unable to leave the UK and would otherwise be destitute. As such, they satisfy the low income requirements to be eligible for the entitlement.

Parent and Carers of children that would fall in to one of the new categories should discuss applying for the two year old funding with the Early Years Team on 01803 207895.

There are a large number of providers of this service within Torbay. You can use any Ofsted registered childcare providers that are judged to be good or outstanding. This could be at a day nursery, school nursery registered to care for 2 year olds, a pre-school, or with a childminder.

All providers receiving funding through this scheme are registered with us and are regularly inspected by Ofsted to ensure they meet the required standards of childcare.

Find an Ofsted report  Opens in a new window

The hours/sessions you can book and how flexible these are will depend on your chosen childcare provider. You will normally be asked to commit to the same weekly pattern of hours for each term and changes to these will need to be agreed with them.

Although we encourage providers to offer the free hours in a flexible manner, you will need to take the hours within their available sessions.

Your childcare provider may also offer you the choice of attending during term times only (15 hours over 38 weeks of the year) or throughout the year (11 hours per week over the full year).

Your child’s first 15 hours of childcare each week will be free but anything above this will need to be paid for at whatever the normal rates charged by the provider are. 

You may also be charged for any additional services you use, for example hot lunches that are considered over and above the ‘normal’ nursery day. However, you should not have to take any of these additional services in order to receive your free hours.

Example: If your child attends a session of three hours (that is part of your free 15 hours) and the children go for a swimming lesson that costs £5 in that time, you can be charged for the swimming lesson if you want your child to attend. However, your child should not have to attend this swimming lesson (and incur the cost) as a condition of them receiving their free hours and there should be a free alternative available which allows your child to attend the session without this cost.

Within the sessions your childcare provider offers, any hours between 6am and 8pm are potentially free. The first 15 hours your child attends each week (between the hours of 6am and 8pm) at the childcare provider will be the free ones. The maximum a child can claim free in one day is 10 hours and the child should not attend more than 2 providers on different sites in one day.

It will be up to you how many free hours your child receives at each provider. You will need to complete a Parental Declaration Form for each one giving details of the hours you want to use. They will then be able to calculate any fees you owe for the childcare you use over your free hours. If you split your free hours between two providers you will still only receive a maximum of 15 hours each week.