Funded childcare for three-to-four-year-olds
All three and four-year-old children are entitled to funded early education and childcare for 15 hours per week, for 38 weeks a year. Additional hours can be accessed for a fee and will depend on the individual childcare provider.
To give parents and carers choice and flexibility, providers should offer the entitlement within the following parameters:
- No session to be longer than 10 hours
- No minimum session length
- No session before 6am or after 8pm
- A maximum of two childcare providers in a single day.
Parents may also choose to take fewer hours per week over the full year rather than over 38 weeks; however this will depend on the individual setting's opening hours and session availability.
Extended 30-hour entitlement
Some children are also entitled to an additional 15 hours a week of childcare providing their parents meet the qualifying criteria. Find out more about the extended 30-hour entitlement.
When can I claim?
Both the universal and extended 30-hour entitlement start from the school term following a child's third birthday.
|Month child was born||School term when funded childcare can start|
|Between 1 January and 31 March||From 1 April (Summer term)|
|Between 1 April and 31 August||From 1 September (Autumn term)|
|Between 1 September and 31 December||From 1 January (Spring term)|
How do I find a place?
Early education and childcare takes place in school nurseries, private pre-schools/nurseries and some childminders. Parents eligible for 30 hours can also access part of their entitlement in before and after-school clubs.
Our family directory has a list of all childcare services that offer this free entitlement.
Once you know which childcare provider you are interested in, you should contact them directly to visit and enrol your child.