Help with childcare costs

Free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds

All 3 and 4-year-olds can get 15 hours of free early learning a week until they go into Reception class or reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday).

About the funding

Funding is available from the term after your child turns 3.

Born on or between Terms for eligible funding
1 January to 31 March Summer term (April onwards)
1 April to 31 August Autumn term (September onwards)
1 September to 31 December Spring term (January onwards)

You don’t have to apply for the 15 hours free childcare. Your chosen childcare provider will do it for you.

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

Using your 15 hours free childcare

You can use your free 15 hours:

  • over a minimum of 2 days or a maximum of 5 days
  • for a minimum of 2.5 hours a day and a maximum of 10 hours a day
  • over 38 weeks, or pro-rata over a maximum of 52 weeks per year
  • anytime between 6am to 8pm, depending on the sessions offered by your chosen provider
  • without paying for additional services

30 hours free childcare for working parents

Working families can get up to 30 hours free childcare for 3 to 4-year olds.

If you can get 30 hours, you'll receive an eligibility code to give to your chosen provider.

Apply online

More guidance for parents

Read our guide on Free Early Education Entitlement for 2, 3 and 4 year olds (PDF, 7.88MB) for more information and advice.

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