Free childcare for three- and four-year-olds has been around for a while – but did you know that free childcare is now also available for disabled two-year-olds?
All three- and four-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early learning or childcare per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year, but you can use your hours over more weeks if your childcare provider is able to be more flexible.
Two-year-olds are entitled to the same number of free hours every year if they:
• have a statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan OR
• receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at any rate
Some two-year-olds may also qualify if your family claims certain state benefits, for example Income Support or tax credits.
How to apply
Free childcare can be accessed at the beginning of the term after your child’s third birthday (or second birthday if they qualify). You can apply up to 10 weeks before the end of the term in which your child turns two or three. To apply, call Sheffield City Council on 0114 273 4567 or call into First Point at Howden House.
Free childcare places are available at approved nurseries, pre-schools, schools and childminders. Sheffield’s Local Offer website has information about local childcare providers and the support they offer for children with additional needs or disabilities.
If you are struggling to find a suitable childcare provider for your disabled child, the Early Years Inclusion Team may be able to help; email Elizabeth.Hodkin@sheffield.gov.uk or call 0114 273 6411. If your child has a diagnosis of visual impairment, hearing impairment or autism, you should contact the relevant support service instead.