Quality, accessible childcare is crucial to enable parents to go out to work, but early education also helps to improve equality of opportunities for success in later life, regardless of a child’s background.


All three and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education a week, for 38 weeks of the year. The free early education can be at Ofsted registered nurseries, nurseries on school sites, children’s centres, some playgroups and pre-schools, or provided through childminders.

Some eligible two-year-olds are also entitled to the same amount of free early education as three and four-year-olds, and eligibility is decided using similar criteria to those children who would qualify for free school meals. Two-year-olds who have a statement of special educational needs or who are receiving Disability Living Allowance are entitled to a free place.

Your local authority Family Information Service can help you find a free childcare place for your three or four-year-old, and they can tell you if your two-year-old qualifies for the free offer as well as help you find a free place.

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