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Funded childcare for three-to-four-year-olds


All three and four-year-old children are entitled to funded early education and childcare for up to 15 hours per week, for a minimum of 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 bornSchool term when funded childcare can start
Between 1 January and 31 MarchFrom 1 April (Summer term)
Between 1 April and 31 AugustFrom 1 September (Autumn term)
Between 1 September and 31 DecemberFrom 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.

Can I get further help with my childcare costs?

The government has developed a number of new ways to help parents with their childcare costs for children of all ages.

Visit Childcare Choices to find out more.

Need more help?

If you have any queries, please contact our funded early education entitlement team on the following numbers:

To enquire about entitlements relating to funded childcare for two-year-olds or three to four year olds

Please Note: The telephone numbers stated only deal with funded childcare enquiries - for general enquiries please telephone our Contact Centre on 01744 676789

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