30 hours free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds will be available from September 2017, but you can apply now.

 The 30 hours extended entitlement is double the 15 hours currently available for all three and four-year-olds. Eligible parents can use it as 30 hours per week during term time or spread the hours over the full year (1140 hours in total). Working parents will need to meet the national eligibility criteria.

Once your child turns three, if you are eligible, you can start claiming from the following term date which will be 1 April, 1 September or 1 January. 


You can find out more and apply through the Childcare Choices website. If you are eligible you'll get an 11 digit eligibility code.  You will need to keep this safe, as you will need this to access your free place. The Childcare Choices website also offers a comparison guide for all the ways you can reduce childcare costs.

Choosing a childcare provider

You will need to choose an eligible childcare provider that has capacity to offer you a childcare place for the hours you need. Visit our looking for childcare  page where you can search for local provision and look at the types of childcare available.  

Please note: Childcare providers may choose not to offer any of the free hours or the pattern of childcare you require to access your free hours.  You can split the 30 free hours between up to 3 childcare providers.

Frequently asked questions

No, there’s only one 30 hours policy, it's the same scheme.

To work out whether you qualify for the 30 hours free childcare, you and your current partner will be assessed for eligibility.

No. Foster carers may be eligible for the extended entitlement for their own children but they cannot claim the 30 hours free childcare for the children who they foster.

As long as you don’t claim more than 30 hours per week in total, or 1140 hours across the year if you stretch your claim, you can claim from both. Each child’s funded hours can be split between up to three different providers. We can only fund Ofsted registered childcare providers (including registered childminders). We cannot fund any other types of care, including family arrangements. If a relative or friend looks after your child during the week, they can't be paid the free early years funding.

Yes. Parents who are on temporary leave from work such as maternity leave or statutory sick pay, are still considered to be in work.  Please contact HMRC to discuss this further.

If either or both of the child’s parents stop work at any point, after a short grace period to support you to find a new job, the child will stop being eligible for the additional 15 hours childcare. This also applies to other changes to circumstances which affect eligibility.

Every three months, you'll need to reconfirm that you're still eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

The model of delivery your childcare provider has chosen to provide the extended entitlement is an acceptable model of delivery, and meets the requirements in the statutory guidance from the Department for Education. Although it may not meet your specific needs, you can explore alternative options for the provision of the whole entitlement across the year, or split the funded hours between more than one childcare provider, to create a more flexible package of childcare.

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