Walsall FIS offers up-to-date information,
advice and help on services for families in Walsall.

Free early learning for 2 year olds


We all want the best for our children. We know that free early learning can make a big difference. To enable all children to reach their full potential, the government fund up to 15 hours free early learning a week for some 2 year olds, and all 3 and 4 year olds. This page answers the most common questions about how the free early learning for 2 year olds works. To check if your family can get a place, visit the Can I get a 2 year old place? page. If you want to know more about free early learning for 3 and 4 year olds, please visit Free early years places for 3 and 4 year olds page.




What is a 2 year old early learning place?

It is a free place for eligible 2 year olds at Ofsted registered settings across Walsall.


Who can get a place?

To get a place you must have a child who is 2, or will be 2 in the next few months and:

Families in receipt of:

  • Working Tax Credit / Child Tax Credit and earn less than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit and earn less than £15,400

Families receiving 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’)
  • Families where the 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
  • the right to live in the UK because you’re the main carer of a British citizen (known as a ‘Zambrano Carer’)

Children with Special Educational Needs:

  • Child receives Disability Living Allowance
  • Child has a current statement of special educational needs or an Education Health and Care plan

Looked after or adopted children:

  • Child is looked after by a local council
  • Child has left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

Support through part 6 Immigration and Asylum Act


Think you maybe eligible? Click on this text to apply for a place


When can my child get a place?

If your family is eligible for a place, your child can start the term after their second birthday. The table below shows the dates and terms:

If your child is born between:

They will get their free place:

1st January and 31st March Summer term (in April)
1st April and 31st August Autumn term (in September)
1st September and 31st December Spring term (in January)


What settings can my child go to?

There are a variety of nurseries, playgroups, childminders and schools that your child can go to. We can give you details once your eligibility check has been done.


Think you maybe eligible? Click on this text to apply for a place


How many hours is a free early learning place for?

Your child can have up to 570 hours in a year. You can take them in a variety of ways. Most commonly it is either 15 hours a week for 38 weeks, or 12 hours a week spread over 48 weeks. The flexibility will depend on the setting you decide on.


Do I have to send my child for all the hours? 

No. You can send them for as many hours as you feel comfortable with, up to a maximum of 570 hours for the year.  If you do agree to send your child to a setting, they will have to monitor your child’s attendance. Regular absences of 2 weeks or more and attendance that falls under 80% could affect your child’s place, as funding from the Local Authority could be at risk of being withdrawn for the setting.


Think you maybe eligible? Click on this text to apply for a place


Are there any hidden costs?

No. You can buy extra services or additional hours which you have topay for, but you don't have to have anything that you don't want. For instance, a setting may offer lunch at an extra cost, but if you prefer, you can send your child with a packed lunch!


I think I might be entitled to a place. What should I do?

If you think you meet the criteria, please visit the Can I get a 2 year old place? page to apply online. We will get back to you with the outcome in 2-4 weeks.


Think you maybe eligible? Click on this text to apply for a place


If I am entitled to place, what do I do?

We will write to you with your unique code. On the letter there is a tear-off slip that you take to your chosen setting. They will fill in the necessary paperwork and we do the rest. If you are not certain of where you want your child to go, we can send you a list or you can search for yourself by visiting our online search portal and following the easy to use 'Free Early Learning for 2 year olds' link.


Why should my child take up a place?


You can also find out more about what parents who have used free early learning think by watching the videos below:


Think you maybe eligible? Click on this text to apply for a place


I have been told that my child is not eligible for a place, but I think they are. What do I do?

The appeals procedure is detailed in the letter you receive saying that you are not eligible. The procedure requires you to send in proof of the criteria that match. Please refer to the letter for more information.


I still have some questions, who do I ask?

If you are still uncertain about anything to do with a Free 2 year old place we have put together a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) factsheet that answers the most common questions we get asked. If that doesn't answer your query, please speak to us on 01922 653383.


Think you maybe eligible? Click on this text to apply for a place