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Three and four year old funding

15 hours free childcare

All 3 to 4 year olds can get the 570 hours free early education or childcare.

Usually the hours are taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year (term time). You don’t have to use all the hours your child is entitled to, but you can chose to use fewer hours over more weeks of the year.

How does it work?

You do not need to apply for this funding. Your child is eligible for the universal hours the term after their third birthday, up until they enter reception or are the statutory school age (the term after they are five).

If your child turns 3 on or betweenYour child can start using their hours from
1 April to 31 August1 September
1 September to 31 December1 January
1 January to 31 March1 April
  • Minimum of two days a week
  • Sessions can’t be longer than 10 hours a day, or shorter than 2 and a half hours a day
  • Hours must be between 6am and 8pm
  • Funding can be split between a maximum of two providers

Choosing a childcare provider

Your entitlement to free childcare doesn’t guarantee you a place with your first choice of childcare provider. It’s up to a provider what hours and places they offer, and you need to check that what spaces are available.

View the list of Early Years providers (Word, 234KB) who offer funded places.

30 hours free childcare

Children aged 3 to 4 years could have 1,140 hours a year of free early education or childcare. Every parent living in the household with the child must:

  • work an average of 16 hours per week
  • earn the equivalent at National Minimum Wage or Living Wage (around £125 a week at National Living Wage)
  • expect to earn less than £100,000 a year

If you are separated, you and your ex-partner need to decide who should apply if you are jointly responsible for your child. Both parents cannot both have accounts for the same child. If you cannot decide, both of you must apply separately and HMRC will decide who gets a childcare account.

You may be eligible if you:

  • are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • are unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities
  • receive incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, carer’s allowance or employment and support allowance


Before you start, you’ll need:

  • Your details
  • Your partner’s details (if you have one)
  • National Insurance Number
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if you’re self-employed

Successful application

You’ll receive an 11 digit code which you must give to your chosen childcare provider, along with your National Insurance Number and your child’s date of birth.

Rechecking your eligibility

To keep your 30 hours free childcare place you will need to renew your eligibility every 3 months.

Contact details

Families First Information Service

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 01472 326292 (option 1)

Childcare Choices

Opening times: Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5pm and Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm except bank holidays