You may be eligible for up to 30 hours' FREE childcare.
- Some 2 year olds can get 15 hours free early education, depending on your circumstances.
- All 3 and 4 year olds can get 15 hours free early education (570 hours per year). You can use these from the term after your child turns 3.
- Some 3 and 4 year olds can get an extra 15 hours childcare, this is known as 30 hours free childcare.
- Use your 15 free hours with a school nursery, childminder, day nursery or pre-school. Contact them about place availability and when your child can start.
2 Year Olds
From 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child’s 2nd birthday.
- 15 hours of free childcare or early education for 38 weeks
- A total of 570 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
- Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week
- For all families in England, receiving some forms of support:
- income support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit – if you and your partner have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
- tax credits and you 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).
Free childcare is also available for children who:
- are looked after by a local authority
- have a current statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
- have left care through a special guardianship or an adoption or child arrangement order
- get disability living allowance.
3 and 4 Year Olds
All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get at least 15 hours of free early education or childcare from the term after they turn 3.
|Your child is born between...||Your child can start...|
1 April – 31 August
On or after 1 September after their 3rd birthday
1 September – 31 December
On or after 1 January after their 3rd birthday
1 January – 31 March
On or after 1 April after their 3rd birthday
The free early education and childcare:
- must be with an approved childcare provider
- stops when your child starts in Reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)
You can choose to take the hours at 1 provider or split them between providers.
If you want to split them, the providers will need to be registered and agree to this.
When you are using your free hours, providers will:
specify when early education sessions can be taken
decide the price of any extra hours you want to take
make it clear in their admissions policy how many funded places they have.
The government will pay the provider directly for the hours. Any hours you get after this are charged at the provider's own rate.
You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare (1,140 hours per year, which you can choose how you take).
If you’re eligible for the extra hours, you sign up online to get a code to give to your childcare provider to reserve your place. You’ll get the extra hours once the next term starts.
You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:
- in work - or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave
- each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week - this is £125.28 if you’re over 25
This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
You’re not eligible if:
- your child does not usually live with you
- the child is your foster child
- either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000
- you’re from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds
To Apply For 30 hours' Child Care
You’ll need your details (and your partner’s, if you have one), including your:
- National Insurance number
- Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if you’re self-employed
You’ll get a childcare account if your application is successful. You can use it to get your code for 30 hours free childcare.
If you pay for childcare and want to use Tax-Free Childcare to get help with costs, you can also apply using this service.
It usually takes 20 minutes to apply. You may find out if you’re eligible straight away, but it can take up to 7 days. Apply here.
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