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.

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.

The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours free childcare can have for working families.

Watch DfE videos on how the 30 hours free childcare has helped families.

Chelsea from Telford shares her story of how 30 hours free childcare helped her find a healthy work and life balance.

Florentina from Brent shares her story of how 30 hours free childcare allowed her to increase her working hours, while her son Erik, who has special educational needs, received speech and language therapy.

Debbie and Jamie from Devon share their story of how the 30 hours free childcare helped them both start working full-time, and increase the number of days their daughter, Ivy, attends pre-school.

Murugan from Brent shares how the 30 hours free childcare helped with his family's finances.

Letesha from Derby shares her story of how 30 hours free childcare helped bring her family closer together.

Claire from Leeds shares her story of how 30 hours free childcare helped giver her independence back.

Visit GOV.UK to check if you’re eligible for the additional 30 hours and apply online. If you’re eligible, you will get an eligibility code to give to your chosen provider.

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.

This guide is also available in:

Early years census

Every year, early years providers who receive government funding for 2, 3 or 4-year-olds, must complete an early years census. This includes all private, voluntary or independent nurseries and early years education providers.

We collate all the data and submit them to the Department for Education.

Privacy notices for education services

Find out what we do with the information you give us when you use our education services.

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