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About 30 hours free childcare and how to apply

Details of eligibility, how to use the funding and apply.

Who can get 30 hours free childcare?

All 3 and 4 year olds get up to 15 hours of free childcare per week, and some 2 year olds are also eligible.

The 30 hours free childcare offer is for working families in England with 3 and 4 year old children. Children are eligible from the term following their 3rd birthday until they reach compulsory school age.

Parents must be working and each earning at least the National Minimum or National Living wage for 16 hours a week (£125.28 if you're over 25). You won't be able to claim if either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000.

You might also be able to get Tax-Free Childcare. If so you can apply for both at the same time.

See GOV.UK for the  full eligibility criteria (opens in a new window)

How you can use your 30 hours

Up to 30 hours of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours, the same as school terms). Some childcare providers can stretch your entitlement across more weeks by taking fewer hours over each week (e.g 22.75 hours over 50 weeks).

If you're using 15 hours of free childcare, ask your provider if they're offering up to 30 hours from September 2017. Some providers may not be able to offer more hours, or they may only be able to offer a few extra hours. This may be due to places they have available or their opening times.

You can use funding to pay for more than one childcare provider. This could be a nursery and a childminder, or two childminders.

What types of childcare you can use

You can only use the funding with childcare providers registered to access early education funding. This includes:

These also include early education and childcare provision run by schools.

Search for childcare

If you're not using childcare yet, search our Family Information Directory to find childcare. You can filter your search by those offering free early education funding.

Search for childcare

How to apply

To apply and claim the funding:

  • complete an online form
  • if you're eligible you will get an eligibility code which you must take to your provider
  • you must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months after applying (even if you haven't started claiming your extra hours)

You can only claim at the start of each new term, so if you fall eligible during the term you will need to wait until the start of the next to get your extra hours.

Apply for 30 hours

When to apply

See the table for dates you can apply this year.

Age When can I claim?Recommended apply date (less than 3 month before start of termTake your code to your provider
3 or 4 on 31 March1 April 2018Apply by 31 March. We advise you apply by the end of February in order to get your code and take it to your provider.By 31 March 2018
3 or 4 on 31 August 20181 September 2018Apply from 11 June 2018 

By 31 August 2018

3 or 4 on 31 December 20181 January 2019To be confirmedBy 31 December 2018

Reconfirm your eligibility

If you have applied and/or claimed up to 30 hours of free childcare, you must reconfirm your eligibility. You must do this even if your child hasn't started their 30 hours place. You must do this 3 months from the date you applied to receive their extra hours. You must do this every 3 months.

Find out how to reconfirm your eligibility

Access your childcare account

If you are having trouble accessing your account or cannot recall how to do it, see our guidance on signing into your childcare account. It also explains where to find your eligibility code. 

What happens when my child starts school?

If a child starts school in the September after their fourth birthday the funding will get transferred to the school. You won't need to apply again. Parents can choose to delay their child's start date until the term of their fifth birthday, in these circumstances the funding can continue at their setting. Parents must still apply for their child's school place by the same admissions deadline as 4 year olds.

See school admissions for more details.

More information

Find out about:

More information is available on the  Childcare Choices website (opens in a new window). It also includes a childcare calculator to find out how much you could receive.

To find out about fee charging policies*, extra costs, paying for fees, deposits and retainers, speak to your childcare provider. *You need to agree to this when you register. 

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