London Borough of Croydon

All 3 and 4 year olds and some 2 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early years education. 

2 year olds may be entitled to 15 hours free early education and childcare if all or some of the following criteria are met:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit – For places starting in the summer term of 2018 (on or after 1st April 2018), or any subsequent term, 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. 21 Further guidance on checking eligibility is set out below.
  • Tax credits and the family have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • The child has a statement of special educational needs made under section 324 of the Education Act 1996;
  • The child has an Education, Health and Care plan prepared under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014;
  • The child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance under section 71 of the Social Security and Contributions and Benefits Act 1992;
  • They are looked after by a local authority (under section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989) or by a local authority in Wales within the meaning given by section 74(1) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
  • They are no longer looked after by a local authority as a result of an adoption order, a special guardianship order or a child arrangement order (within the meaning of section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989 or section 74(1) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014) which relates to either or both of the following:

i.with whom the child is to live;

ii.when the child is to live with any person. 

3 and 4 year olds are entitled to free early education and childcare from the term after he/she reaches 3 years of age.


  • A child born on or between 1 April and 31 August will become eligible for a place from 1 September
  • A child born on or between 1 September and 31 December will become eligible for a place from 1 January
  • A child born on or between 1 January and 31 March will become eligible for a place from 1 April.

You can access your free education and childcare place in an Ofsted registered provision. Ofsted registration helps to make sure that children and young people are cared for in the safe environment they need. The types of childcare providers you can access are listed below:

Childminders – provide full/part time childcare within their own home for all ages up to 18

Day nurseries – provide full/ part time childcare in a setting for children aged up to 5 years – all year round.

Pre-schools – provide part time childcare in a setting for children aged 2-5 years – term time only.

Nursery schools and classes – provide full / part time childcare in a setting for children aged up to 5 years.

Special Needs Support - All early years settings have a pre-school special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or inclusion lead.  They will talk to you about your child’s needs and how the setting can best support them. It is their responsibility to co-ordinate support for your child in the setting and to liaise with other professionals to ensure that all the needs of your child are planned for in advance.  They can help with providing specialist equipment and support for referrals for statutory assessment. They will also help to co-ordinate Early Help interventions.

The Family and Childcare Trust provides information on the types of childcare and how to choose it. 

Childcare -  To find registered childcare in your area go to:  Family Space Croydon website

Early help for families with children aged under 5

Children, young people and their families must be offered help when needs and/or concerns are first identified.  Early help is based on these principles:

  • early identification and intervention 
  • effective integrated support for children with complex needs
  • children, young people and their families are listened to
  • agencies work together with shared responsibility
  • safe-guarding and welfare of the child/young person is paramount. 
  • helping families to help themselves

These principles apply where special needs are identified. If needs are identified that cannot be supported by the setting, then additional support can be provided which may include several agencies.  If special needs are identified, referral or involvement from other services will always be in discussion with parents and carers. 

Early Intervention Support Service
The service provides advice and support to early years settings including training for SENCOs and inclusion leads.  The service will also give support on observation and strategies for helping children who need extra help. Training to support a child’s specific needs and extra staffing and resources may also be provided as well as support for developing and managing individual education plans, making referrals for specialist services and advising parents.

Settings can request ordinarily available support from
For information on requests for targeted and specialist support go to: .

Nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools see our Nursery and pre-schools webpage