Free and funded childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds

Am I eligible?

All 3 or 4 year olds can get 15 hours free/funded childcare and early education. This is regardless of the parents’ immigration status.

They can get the free/funded hours from the term after their third birthday at an Ofsted registered:

  • private day nursery
  • pre-school playgroup
  • childminder
  • or school nursery class the September after your child turns 3.

This is for 38 weeks of the year but some childcare providers may ‘stretch’ the 15 hours across the full year. So that is, fewer hours offered per week over more weeks of the year (e.g. 11 hours each week for 51 weeks).

As this is available to all children, you do not need to apply. Find a childcare provider and contact them to see if they have a place for your child. Please note, the entitlement to a free/funded place does not offer a guarantee of a place at your preferred provider.  

If you are a working family, you may also get an extra 15 hours, see 30 hours free/funded childcare

What isn't covered by free/funded childcare

The free childcare entitlements are not intended to cover the costs of:

  • meals or snacks
  • other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream),
  • extra hours or activities (such as trips).

Providers may charge a fee for these additions. Discuss with your childcare provider if you unable to pay these costs. Charges should not be a condition of accessing a free place.

The expansion of free/funded childcare between 2024 and 2025

By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.

The changes are being introduced gradually to make sure that providers can meet the needs of more families. This means that:
  • From April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours childcare support.
  • From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3-year-olds.
  • From September 2025, working parents of children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week.

For more information and other childcare support offers, visit