Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Rochdale Borough Council provides free early education places up to 15 hours per week for eligible 2 year olds from the term after their second birthday and all 3 and 4 year olds, from the term after their third birthday.

Eligible 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week.

2 year olds - 15 hours free childcare per week

Eligibility is determined by a family's individual circumstances:

  1. Check if you’re eligible for free childcare.
  2. Find a childcare provider.
  3. Register and apply for a place online or visit the childcare provider.
  4. Take the child’s birth certificate to the registered provider where you’ll also be required to complete an additional application form.
  5. Agree times for your child to attend.

To be eligible you must be getting one or more of the following:

  • Income support.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.
  • Tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax.
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
  • Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax).

Children are also entitled to a place if they meet one or more of the following:

  • They’re looked after by a local council.
  • They have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
  • They get Disability Living Allowance.
  • They’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order.

If you’re a non- UK citizen who cannot claim benefits

If your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’, you may still get free childcare for your 2-year-old. You must live in England and your household income must be no more than:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children

You cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments

How to check if you are eligible and how to access a place

Golden Tickets

If you have received a golden ticket you are automatically eligible for a 2 year old place. Take this with your accompanying letter to your chosen childcare provision, to book your place.

If you have not received a golden ticket

  1. Check if you are eligible on the Parent Portal on Rochdale Council website 
  2. Find a childcare provider
  3. Once you have checked your eligibility and obtained a code from the Parent Portal, take this code to a childcare provider of your choice to access a place.
3 and 4 year olds - 15 hours free childcare per week

All 3 and 4 year old children in the Rochdale borough are entitled to 15 hours free early years education per week over 38 weeks per year.

  • The free 15 hours of early education can be taken in any combination of hours over a minimum of two days per week subject to reasonable demand.
  • The maximum hours that can be claimed in one day are 10 hours.
  • The Free Entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds, equates to 15 hours per week over a minimum of 38 weeks of the year
  • All eligible children can claim up to a maximum of 570 hours within a year.

How to apply for a 3 and 4 year old place

  1. Find a childcare provider.
  2. Complete an application form at your chosen childcare provider. You will need to show your child's birth certificate.
  3. Arrange a placement and start date with your childcare provider. 
3 and 4 year olds - 30 hours free childcare per week

In September 2017, the government introduced a 30 hour free childcare entitlement for parents of children who meet certain criteria.

How to check if you are eligible and how to access a place:

  1. Check if you are eligible for a funded 3 and 4 year old 30 hour place on the Childcare Choices website. If you are eligible you will be given a unique eligibility code.
  2. Register or sign into the Parent Portal.
  3. Enter your eligibility code into the Parent Portal.
  4. Find a childcare provider whilst logged into the Parent Portal and arrange a place with them.
  5. Read more about the 30 hour free childcare entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds.

Children in foster care

  1. Children in foster care who are aged 3 or 4 years old can receive 30 hours free childcare, if the following criteria are met:

    • Accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan; and
    • Where there is a single foster parent family, the foster parent is engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent; or
    • Where there are two foster parents in the same fostering household, both are engaging in paid work outside their role as a foster parent.

Foster carers will need to complete a separate application form with their supervising social worker to enable an eligibility check to be undertaken. If you are eligible (this is determined by Rochdale council) you will be given a unique code which you can take to a provider of your choice as proof of eligibility.

If you are fostering a child from outside of Rochdale (for example, Oldham) you should contact the supervising social worker from that authority and apply through them. If an eligible child then attends a Rochdale childcare setting, Rochdale will pay for that child's place.

Complete 30 hours application form for foster carers (133KB pdf)

Benefits of registering on the parent portal

Once you have registered and logged into the Parent Portal you will be able to:

  • Apply for a funded childcare place for 2 year olds.
  • Check the earliest date when you can start a funded 30 hour place by entering your eligibility code.
  • Find a placement by sharing your details with childcare providers online.
  • Receive updates and notifications regarding your application(s).

You can also:

  • View existing applications.
  • Review and amend your family details (for example, add details of any new-born children in the 'My Family' section).
  • Apply for a school place.

Register on the Parent Portal

I am a childcare provider

Find out information on signing up to Tax Free Childcare, Early Help Assessment briefings and much more.

For full details available to childcare providers see the Practitioners page.

Information for parents
Who to contact for help

If you have any queries or need help finding a childcare place contact us.

Early Years Education Funding Team


Local advice

  1. Help with childcare costs

    The government has introduced ways to help parents with childcare costs.  Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support. See the different types of support available below.

Related Videos

Project 29- free early education for 2 year olds- Urdu
Project 29- free early education for 2 year olds- Bangla
How to apply for 30 hours free childcare video

Page last reviewed: 19/10/2023