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About 30 hours free childcare

Apply for 30 hours free childcare

Sign up, create an account and apply for funding.

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 third birthday, or the term following receipt of a valid 30 hours eligibility code, whichever is later. 

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.

Check what help you could get with childcare costs: 

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 may allow you to use your free hours over more weeks by using less hours each week. Speak to your chosen provider to find out how many weeks per year you can spread the funding over.

If you're using 15 hours of free childcare, ask your provider if they're offering up to 30 hours. 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 choose to continue to take up your child's free place at a private, voluntary or independent childcare provider until your child reaches compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday), if you choose not to take up your child's right to a place in a state-funded school reception class in the September following your child's fourth birthday.

You can use funding to pay for more than one childcare provider.

You can't take the additional free hours once your child is taking up a full-time place in a state-funded school reception class, or an independent school reception class.

What types of childcare you can use

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

Search for childcare

Search our Family Information Directory to find childcare. You can filter your search by those offering free early education funding.


Childcare funding for children in foster care

Children in foster care are also eligible for funding for up to 30 hours, as long as the child is 3 years old and meets 2 additional criteria:

  • that this is consistent with the child's care plan
  • that the foster parent is in paid employment outside of their fostering role

The application process is different for foster parents. You should apply to us, rather than to the HMRC to make sure that using the additional hours is consistent with your child's care plan. If your request is approved, we will issue your eligibility code.

Further information

More information is available on the Childcare Choices website. It also includes a childcare calculator to find out how much you could get.

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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