2 year old funded childcare - Working families

From April 2024 parents who work the equivalent of 16hrs per week at minimum living wage and have a child aged 2 may qualify for 15hrs funded childcare per week for 38 weeks per year.

How do I apply?

To check if you are eligible for this scheme you need to apply to HMRC via your gateway account by the termly cut-off date. If you have any queries about your application, you can call HMRC on 0300 123 4097 or you can view further information on the scheme on The Education Hub.

If you are found to be eligible you will be provided with an 11 digit eligibility code; you will need to pass this code to your chosen childcare provider to be able to take up your place in the April 2024 term.

What if I don’t have a gateway account?

When you click the HMRC link above you will be prompted to log into your gateway account or register for an account if you do not already have one. If you have already registered for Tax Free Childcare this is via your gateway account, so you can just log in using your gateway code and password.

If you do not have an account, when you click to register you will be provided with a gateway code which you will use to set up your account. Once your account is set up you can log in with your gateway code and password and apply for the eligibility code.

Please note your gateway code is not your eligibility code and cannot be used to take up a funded place.

Is there a deadline for applications for summer 2024?

To be able to take up a place in the April 2024 term you will need to have applied to HMRC for your eligibility code by 31 March 2024. If you apply after this date your code will not be valid until the Autumn term (September 2024).

Do I have to reapply each term?

Once you have been provided with your eligibility code you will be required to reconfirm your details on your HMRC childcare account every 3 months to ensure your code remains valid. You will receive an email or text reminder from HMRC when you need to do this.

If your working situation does not change and you reconfirm your details every 3 months you will be able to continue to use your eligibility code until your child starts in reception.

Please note:

If you are already in receipt of Tax Free Childcare (TFC) to help pay for your childcare, and your renewal date is before 15 February 2025 you will not be able to apply for your eligibility code until that date. Once you receive your reminder to renew your TFC you can then also apply for your eligibility code.

If your renewal date is after 15 February 2024 then you will be sent a temporary eligibility code (starting 11) that you can use to take up your place in April 2024. When you then do your next renewal you will be provided with your permanent eligibility code (starting 50) to use for future terms. If you receive 2 codes you should use the one starting 50 to book your place, as this is your permanent eligibility code.

Find a childcare provider

You can find childcare providers who offer 2 year old funding by searching our online directory.

Search for a childcare provider

Frequently Asked Questions 

The earliest you can apply for 2 year old funding is during the term that your child turns 2. If you are eligible as a working parent you will be provided with an 11 digit eligibility code that you can pass to your childcare provider for you to take up a place the following term. Please see dates below:

A child who is 2 years old between: Can access their place from the following:
1 April and 31 August September term
1 September and 31 December January term
1 January and 31 March April term

When you are applying for your eligibility code you need to ensure you apply before the following cut off dates. If you apply after these dates you will have to wait until the following term to take up the funded hours:

  • 31 August - funding starting in the Autumn term (from September)
  • 31 December - funding starting in the Spring term (from January)
  • 31 March - funding starting in the Summer term (from April)

Your child’s funded hours are free of charge. The funding does not cover the cost of meals, consumables or additional services.

  • Childcare providers can charge for meals and snacks and so, if you choose to take these up, you would be expected to pay for them. Childcare providers should provide you with alternatives such as supplying your child’s meals and snacks yourself.
  • Childcare providers can charge for consumables (such as sun cream, nappies, trips, specialist tuition or additional services). Childcare providers should provide you with an alternative such as supplying your own items, your child not accessing the specialist tuition/trips or them waiving/reducing fees.
  • Childcare providers can charge for extra hours so, if you choose to take these up, you would be expected to pay for them. If you choose not to access extra hours this should not stop you from accessing your child’s funded place.

You should discuss any charges with the childcare provider you wish to use before making a booking. This will allow you to understand any charges and ask the childcare provider what alternative options they can offer. If you choose to pay for any meals, consumables or additional services, these should be clearly listed on your invoice so you know what you are paying for. 

If you have any questions please discuss them directly with your chosen childcare provider who will be able to explain their process to you.

Yes you could be entitled to further government support including Tax Free Childcare and Universal Credit for Childcare depending on your circumstances.

You can use the online childcare calculator to see what you may be eligible for and view information on all of your options on the government Childcare Choices website.

You can choose to access fewer hours if you would like to, but the number of hours you choose must remain the same for that whole term. Your childcare setting may be able to stretch your hours so that your child attends for fewer hours per week but for more weeks out of term time. Please speak to your childcare setting directly about stretching your hours.

For more information on how to choose an appropriate setting for your child please view our childcare choices booklet.

You need to set a pattern of attendance for your funded hours for the term during headcount week which is usually the 3rd week of the funding term. Once this pattern is set you cannot increase your hours until the next term.

If you wish to move some or all of your funded hours to another childcare provider during the term, that is fine, as long as you give the relevant amount of notice to the original nursery and do not increase the total number of funded hours you are taking up.

For example: You cannot start the term with a pattern of 10hrs and then start another nursery mid-term to take up additional hours as this would be classed as increasing, but you can take up 15 hours at one provider and then move 5 of these hours to another provider during the term i.e. you continue to have 15 funded hours but move some of them to another provider.

If you no longer meet the criteria for the funded hours following the reconfirmation check you will be permitted a ‘grace period’ whereby your child will still have access to 15 hours entitlement for a set number of weeks after your check.

You will be told how long the grace period is when you have had your reconfirmation check. If the grace period has lapsed and you still no longer meet the criteria you will have to pay for any childcare hours taken.

You can find information and how to apply on our 30 hours extended entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds webpage.

For parents on parental leave who are applying for the child who is the reason for the leave, or for parents starting a new job, the following applies:

  • If you are planning to start work or return to work from parental leave before 30 September 2024, you can apply for the working parent entitlement now, to take up a place from the start of the September 2024 term. You need to apply online via HMRC and you will then receive a letter in the post within 1 to 2 weeks so you can access your childcare entitlement. 
  • If you are planning to start or return to work from parental leave between 1 October 2024 and 31 January 2025, then you will be able to apply from 1 September 2024 to take up a place from the start of the January term 2025. 

From 1 October, the below dates will apply:

Date of starting or returning to work When you can apply from When you can access your entitlement from
1 May to 30 September 1 April to 31 August 1 September
1 October to 31 January 1 September to 31 December 1 January
1 February to 30 April 1 January to 31 March 1 April

If you are applying for childcare for an older child, who is not the reason for your parental leave, you can apply regardless of your return-to-work date.