Free early learning for two year olds

The aim of this programme is to support children's learning and development and give parents who are economically disadvantaged access to childcare.

Places are available in nurseries, playgroups, with some childminders and in some schools across Liverpool. These providers must be registered with OFSTED and inspected against the Early Years Foundation Stage Regulatory Framework. They must also have signed the local Early Years Funding Agreement.

A free place is a total of 570 hours which equates to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks. There is some flexibility but the hours must be taken over a minimum of a two-day period each week, and for between 2.5 and 10 hours each day.

How do I apply?

You no longer need to apply - just check that you meet the eligibility criteria below and provide proof to your chosen care provider such as an Income Support letter, Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602a) provided by HMRC or an Asylum Seekers NASS card, along with evidence of your child's date of birth.

Proof of eligibility is required so care providers can claim the funding for your child's place.

When you click on the eligibility link below, you'll be asked to create an account or login to an existing account. If you've recently applied for a reception or year 7 place for another child you'll already have an account.

Check eligibility online

Where a child is looked after by the Local Authority (LAC) eligibility will be confirmed by the Local Authority.

Eligibility criteria

Your child will be eligible for a free place if you are in receipt of the following benefits. 

  • Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (income based).
  • Employment Support Allowance (income related).
  • Support through Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
  • Child Tax Credit with annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year.
  • The Working Tax Credit 4 week-run on (the payment a claimant receives when they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
  • Working Tax credits with annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year.
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Your child may also be eligible for a place if she or he:

  • Has a current Statement of Special Educational Needs/Disabilities (SEND) or an Education Health Care Plan.
  • Is looked after by the local authority.
  • Receives a Personal Independence Payment Award (PIP).

In addition, your child may be offered a place if you have left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order.

Parent Champion Programme

We are supporting a Parent Champion Programme, where volunteer parents will support eligible families in finding and securing a 2 year old place where this is needed. The team can also check eligibility if a parent cannot produce proof of benefits.

Help and advice

If you need help finding a place or you are unsure which provider to choose, please contact the Family Information Service on 0800 085 2022 or visit our Early Help Directory.

Further information

Terms and conditions of the funding agreement