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Free early learning for 2 year olds

Apply for free early learning

If the above link doesn’t work, please try loading the page in a different browser, eg Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.

Before you apply

You will need to register with the Citizen Portal first. The Citizen Portal has a separate login to Islington’s My eAccount. You will need to have an email address before you apply because after you have registered, you’ll be sent an email to confirm your registration details.

When you have logged in, click on ‘Free early education for two year olds’ from the Citizen Portal homepage. You will need to add details of the child you are applying for and your own details, including your National Insurance Number. 

When making a new application, you will be asked to complete an Economic Application or Non-economic Application:

  • Submit an economic application if you receive benefits and/or tax credits – see ‘who is eligible’ below 
  • Submit a non-economic application if your child is looked after, adopted or has Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
  • If both of the above apply to you, then you must submit an economic application only

Who is eligible

Your child can get free early learning at the age of 2 if you live in Islington and you get one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if a parent is entitled to Universal Credit they must have an annual net earned income equivalent to and not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

If you’re a non-EEA citizen who cannot claim benefits

Your 2-year-old may get free childcare if you are getting support under the Immigration and Asylum Act and have either:

  • claimed asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision (known as ‘part 6’)
  • been refused asylum in the UK (known as ‘section 4’)

A 2-year-old you care for may also get free childcare if your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, and you have either:

  • leave to remain with ‘no recourse to public funds’ on family or private life grounds
  • support from your local council because you have ‘a child in need’, for example they have a disability or a child protection plan
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)

If you think you may be eligible under the non-EEA citizen criteria, please contact Islington FIS (Family Information Service) 020 7527 5959.

Your child can also get free early learning at the age of 2, if:

  • they are looked after by a local council
  • they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP) or assessment for an EHCP has been agreed/is underway 
  • they receive Disability Living Allowance
  • they have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

If you do not meet any of these criteria, and you child has special educational needs and disabilities, there may be other support available. For further information please contact Islington FIS (Family Information Service), 020 7527 5959.

When you can start receiving free hours for your child

You can start receiving free hours for your child from the beginning of the term after their second birthday.

  • if their birthday is before 1 September, they can start in the autumn term
  • if their birthday is before 1 January, they can start in the spring term
  • if their birthday is before 1 April, can start in the summer term

When to apply

You can check whether your child is eligible one term before you are able to start receiving free hours. For example, if your child turns two between 1 April and 31 August you can check from 1 April.

Apply for free early learning

If the above link doesn’t work, please try loading the page in a different browser, eg Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.

If your child is eligible, you can choose where you want them to go, depending on spaces at the nurseries and childminders offering free early learning for 2 year olds.

If you're applying for a child who is looked after by Islington, please contact your supervising social worker to discuss what is best for the child.

If your 2 year old is eligible for free early learning, you can also get free support and training courses to help you learn new skills to get ready to work.

Islington also offers free guidance and training in using your computer and getting online

For help and advice, contact the Family Information Service (FIS) on 020 7527 5959 or email FIS.


If parents are not satisfied that their child has received their free entitlement in the correct way, they should ask their provider for their complaints procedure. Further information about the complaints process is outlined in the Early Years Free of Charge complaints procedure.

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