Free childcare and early education for three and four year olds

Early years education is an important stage for children where they can flourish and get the best start in life.

Nurseries, Preschools and Childminders are wonderful settings for children to learn and have fun with friends, which supports their development and their overall wellbeing. 

Attending childcare can be an exciting and joyful experience for children and can also help provide a routine as they develop their social skills

If you need any help to find a childcare place please contact the Family Information Service or telephone 020 8583 3470. 

 

15 hours

  • All families in England with 3 and 4 year old children
  • 15 hours of free childcare and early education for 38 weeks
  • A total of 570 hours per year, that you can use with one or more childcare provider
  • Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week 

There is no application process for this, but you will need to select a childcare provider. 

30 hours

The 30 hours free childcare is for working families in England with 3 and 4-year-old children. 

To be eligible for 30 hours free childcare, you (and your partner if you have one) must have a National Insurance number and at least one of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship 
  • settled or pre-settled status, or been living in the UK before 1 January 2021 with the right to reside
  • permission to access public funds - your UK residence card will tell you if you do not have access.

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). You and any partner must earn less than £100,000 a year each.

In two-parent households, both parents must meet the requirements relating to employment and earnings but only one parent needs to meet the residence requirement.

You may be eligible if  you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

The 30 hours free childcare is for working families in England with 3 and 4-year-old children. Your child will receive: 

  • 30 hours of free childcare and early education for 38 weeks
  • A total of 1,140 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

You will need to have your eligibility checked via an application process. Read the step to step guide on how to apply.

Parents share their stories of how 30 hours helped bring families closer together. Hear more from other families who have benefited from 30 hours below:

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