Free places for 2 year olds

Families in receipt of certain benefits, children with special educational needs and children who have previously been in care may be eligible for a free 2 year old place. Eligible children can get up to 15 hours free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year at an approved early education provider. To find out if you qualifysee 2 year old eligibility criteria.

Finding a place for your child

There is a choice of early education providers such as a school nursery class, preschool playgroup, private day nursery or childminder. You can search approved providers on the Trafford Directory to find a place. If you need any support finding a place to meet your needs contact Trafford's Family Information Service on 0161 912 1053.

Claiming your free hours

Once you have found a place for your child, you need to complete a 2 year old funding declaration form so we can confirm you are eligible. You will receive confirmation of your eligibility and your early education provider may want to see a copy of this.

Your early education provider will then be able to claim the hours on your behalf by submitting a termly Headcount form for all children registered as attending their setting on a specific day each term. This specific day is known as Headcount day.

When to submit your 2 year old funding declaration form

The earliest you can submit the form is the term in which your child has their second birthday. You must submit the form in time for your provider to claim for your funding and this will also determine when your funding is available from. Please see below for the cut off dates:

Declaration Form Cut off Dates
Autumn 2022(1 September - 31 December)
To receive funding from 1 September 2022 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 25 September
To receive funding from Monday 31 October Forms must be submitted by Sunday 6 November
Spring 2023(1 January - 31 March)
To receive funding from 1 January 2023 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 8 January
To receive funding from 20 February 2023 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 12 March

Every term there are two opportunities to start a funded place; at the start of term and after half term. There is only one opportunity to change the  funded provider and this is at the start of each term. Please see below for further information about changing providers. 

Funding start date if you meet the eligibility criteria

Funding is available from the term after a child's second birthday and terms start on 1 January, 1 April and 1 September. However, the date you can start to access your place will depend on when you submit the 2 year old funding declaration form, please see above for cut off dates. 

Your early education provider will ask you to complete a parent contract to collect all the details they require. They will then confirm details of your free place including when the hours will start and how they will be delivered. 

Your funding will continue until your child is eligible for a free place for 3 and 4 year olds, even if your circumstances change. 

Receiving your free hours

The 15 free hours are for 38 weeks of the year which is known as term time. This is a total of 570 hours over the year. It is up to your early education provider to confirm how they can offer you the free hours. This means that the number of hours in a session and the days available may be different at each provider.

Some providers who are open all year may let you use less hours per week over the full year. You may find this is an easier way to work out any payments you need to make to your provider for additional hours or services. Talk to your provider about the options they offer. 

When your hours will be completely free

Your early education hours will be completely free. Your provider may charge for additional hours, consumables, meals and extra curricular activities but these should be offered as an option and not as a condition of your place. Any additional charges should be agreed in advance and clearly visible on your invoice. 

How to change your early education provider

You must ensure that your current early education provider is aware you are intending to leave and discuss any notice period with them in line with your contract. You can then change your early education provider at the start of each new term; 1 January, 1 April and 1 September.  If you need to change early education providers, please complete a new 2 year old funding declaration form in line with the dates above. 

How to move your funding from another local authority

If your child will be moving to a Trafford provider on or before the termly Headcount day they will be able to claim funding for you. If you will be moving after this point they will not be able to make a claim for any funding in that term and your funded place will begin at the start of the next new term. Talk to your new provider about accessing funding with them before your child starts to attend. 

Further contact information

Trafford Family Information Service are available Monday to Friday from 8.30am until 4.30pm and can provide further information and advice to parent carers. They are contactable by telephoning 0161 912 1053 or emailing