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 qualify, see 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 submit a 2-year-old funding application so that your eligibility can be confirmed. Your application will be processed in 10 working days and you will receive a reference number to confirm your eligibility, you must give this to your early education provider. They will not be able to claim funding for you without this.

Your early education provider will 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 day is known as Headcount day.

Parents / Carers use the Parent Portal to apply for 2-year-old funding. A guide to logging in and applying is available.
f you need any support with your application please contact Trafford's Family Information Service by email: or telephone: 0161 912 1053.

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. See below for the cut off dates:

Declaration Form Cut off Dates
Spring 2023(1 January - 31 March)
To receive funding from 1 January 2023 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 8 January 2023
To receive funding from 20 February 2023 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 12 March 2023
Summer 2023(1 April - 31 August)
To receive funding from 1 April 2023 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 9 April 2023
To receive funding from 5 June 2023 Forms must be submitted by Sunday 2 July 2023

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. 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, 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 available for 38 weeks of the year, this 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.

Other charges

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, give your new provider our 2-year-old funding application reference number, they will then use this to claim funding for you 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