Free Early learning and Childcare for two year old children

Children who meet the national criteria (see below) are entitled to a free childcare place from the start of the term after they turn two years old.

They receive 570 hours of free childcare over the year – 15 hours per week if taken over term times only (38 weeks) Some childcare providers open all year round, in which case the number of free hours can be stretched over the full year.

This service is for children aged two who meet the criteria who parent or carer receive one of the following:

  • Child Tax Credit (with an annual gross household income of no more than £16,190) 
  • Working Tax Credits (with an annual gross household income of no more than £16,190) Income Support Income based Job Seekers’ Allowance
  • ncome related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit


  • Children with an Education, Health and Care Plan 
  • Children that attract Disability Living Allowance
  • Children who are looked after by the local authority
  • Children who have left care through special guardianship or an adoption/residence order

All providers have to comply with the ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’. This states that ‘Providers must follow their legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 (for example, the provisions on reasonable adjustments)' and ‘must have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities’

How to access the Services

First check that you are eligible for a free place. If you are, Southwark will supply you with a list of participating providers and you can contact them directly to decide which setting with vacancies would best suit you and your child.