A Quick Guide

A quick guide to the free childcare for 2 year olds scheme
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.

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

Income Support

Income based Jobseekers Allowance

Income related Employment Support Allowance

Child Tax Credit but not entitled to Working Tax Credit and with an annual income of less than £16,190

Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit


For which the local authority has parental responsibility – a ’Looked After Child’ subject to a care order

When will my child be eligible?

2nd birthday between:
Becomes eligible from: 
1st Apr – 31st Aug Start of the Autumn Term
1st Sep – 31st Dec Start of the Spring Term
1st Jan – 31st Mar Start of the Summer Term

How can I apply for a place on this scheme?
There are several ways of doing this:
· At your local Children’s Centre
· At your childcare provider (if you are already using one)
Where can my child receive this free entitlement?
There are a large amount of settings providing this service within Torbay. You can use a day nursery, pre-school, school nursery class or an accredited childminder. 

All providers receiving funding under the scheme are registered with Torbay Council and are regularly inspected by Ofsted to ensure they meet the required standards. All providers will make the their latest Ofsted report available on request or you can view them at www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports.

Please note that some providers may not be able to offer the full 15 hour, 38 week entitlement.

For more information about childcare in your area call 0800 3285974.

Can I use the free hours whenever I want?

The hours/sessions you can book and how flexible these can be will depend on what your chosen childcare provider offers. You will be asked to commit to the same weekly pattern of hours for each term with any alterations in these hours needing to be agreed with your childcare provider.

Although we encourage settings to provide the free hours in a flexible manner, you will still need to take the hours within the sessions offered by your childcare provider. 

Your childcare provider may also offer you the choice of attending during term times only (15hrs over 38 weeks of the year) or throughout the year (12 hours per week over 47½ weeks of the year).

Do I need to pay for anything at my childcare provider?

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

You may also be charged for any additional services you use, such as hot lunches or swimming lessons 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.


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, they should not have to attend this swimming lesson and there should be a free alternative available which allows your child to attend the session without the extra charge.

What hours can I take free?

Within the sessions your childcare provider offers, any hours between 7am and 7pm are potentially free. The first 15 hours your child attends each week (between these hours) at the childcare provider will always be the free ones.

The minimum a child can claim free in one day is 2½ hours and the maximum 10 hours.

My child attends two different childcare providers where will I receive my free hours? 

It will be up to you how many free hours your child receives at which setting. You will need to complete a Parental Declaration Form at both settings stating how you want to use your free hours. The childcare provider will then be able to calculate any fees you will owe based on the free hours you will actually use at their setting. Over the two settings you will still only be able to receive a maximum of 15 hours in total.

More information

If you have any questions about this scheme or need help in finding childcare, please feel free to contact Torbay’s Family Information Service on 0800 328 5974.