All 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for up to 15 hours of funded childcare and early education a week for 38 weeks a year. Eligible working families can get up to an additional 15 hours childcare making 30 hours in total.
If you are the parent of a three or four year old you will need to meet the following criteria to be eligible:
- You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £139 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage).
- You have an annual income of less than £100,000 or less than £100,000 each if you are a two parent family.
- You and your partner, if applicable, should be seeking the funded childcare to enable you to work.
- Where you or your partner are on
- maternity leave
- paternity leave
- shared parental leave
- adoption leave
- statutory sick leave
- Where one of you meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because:
- they are disabled
- have caring responsibilities
- been assessed as having limited capability to work.
You are in a ‘start-up period’ for example, you are newly self-employed. You do not need to demonstrate that you meet the income criteria for 12 months.
If you or your partner is a non-EEA national, the parent applying must have recourse to public funds
You will not meet the criteria when:
- Either you or your partner has an income of more than £100,000
- If one or both of you is a non-EEA national and the parent applying does not have recourse to public funds
- Your child is already attending full time reception class.
If you are a foster parent
Your foster child will be able to receive up to 30 hours of funded childcare if you meet the following criteria:
- that accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan
- you and your partner, if applicable, are engaging in paid work outside of your fostering roles
If you think you may be eligible, please start by discussing this with your Social Worker.
There is no requirement on the type of work you do this includes self-employment. Nor to the number of hours that you or your partner have to work to get the 30 hours. There is no minimum earnings limit, although you must be engaging in paid work.
You can claim up to 30 hours from the term after your foster child turns 3 and you have received an eligibility code from the local authority.
What happens if I lose eligibility?
- You will receive a ‘grace period’ – this means you will be able to keep your childcare for a short period.
- Once the ‘grace period’ has lapsed, you should be able to keep the universal 15-hour place
If you are a foster parent you will need to speak to the child's Social Worker to apply.
All other parent and carers will be checked by HM Revenue and Customs via an online application.
You can start the application process from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old. The 30 hours funded childcare can only be taken from the term after your child's third birthday. You will also need a valid eligibility code.
You have to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. You will need to do this even if you have not used the code. You need to reconfirm your eligibility in your account to keep your code valid. You must have a valid code by the end of the month before the term starts.
Early years providers can choose to offer the extended entitlement. Such as:
- before and after school clubs
- private day nurseries
It is optional for providers to provide funding. Some providers do not offer funded hours, others only offer a limited number of places.
You can use more than one provider for your 30 hours but no more than two sites in a single day. For example, your child could go to a school nursery class in the morning and to a childminder in the afternoon.
Childcare providers must offer support for children accessing their provision with a disability or identified special educational need. Once your child has started in either a day nursery or pre-school, they may be able to access extra support through the Early Years SEN Team. In addition to this, further support is available to childcare providers to help support your child through the Disability Access Fund.
- Please check if your childcare provider can offer you a completely funded place. If you have been offered a completely funded place then no additional fees should be charged. Some childcare providers can only offer a limited number of funded places
- Some childcare providers charge a refundable deposit, this should be returned to you one week after your child’s start date
- Funded childcare is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as outings).
- You must check if there will be any additional charges before you agree for your child to start
If you require more hours than the funded hours being offered then please look at other forms of help with childcare costs such as Tax Free childcare or the childcare element of Universal Credit. To find out more please visit the . To find out more please visit the Childcare Choices website.
Some providers may offer a ‘stretched entitlement’ which allows you to use fewer hours a week over more weeks.
You are also able to use more than one provider for example, a school nursery class offering 15 hours and a childminder offering the remaining 15 hours.
Wondering if 30 hours funded childcare is for you? Hear how it has helped these parents.
The links will take you to YouTube videos from the Department of Education
Chelsea & Esmae from Telford ‘I feel not just like “I’m mum” all the time’. Chelsea from Telford shares her story of how 30 hours childcare helped her find a healthy work/life balance. Hear more from Chelsea
Florentina from Brent shares her story of how 30 hours childcare has allowed her to increase her working hours while her son Erik, who has special educational needs, received speech and language therapy through his nursery. Hear more from Florentina
Debbie and Jamie from Devon share how they could only afford childcare for one day a week before taking up 30 hours childcare. Their daughter now attends pre-school five days a week and they can now both work full-time. Hear more from Debbie and Jamie
Murugan from Brent explains how 30 hours childcare helped with his family’s finances. Hear more about Murugan’s story
Letesha from Derby “It has helped us financially to do more things together as a family”. Letesha shares her story of how 30 hours childcare helped bring her family closer together
Claire from Leeds shares some of the benefits she’s found since taking up 30 hours childcare including how “it helps give you back your independence and not just being a mum all the time”. Hear more of Claire’s story.
To keep getting your 30 hours funded childcare, you must sign in every 3 months and confirm your details are up to date.
This does not apply if you are a foster parent as the local authority will reconfirm your code for you. Please speak to your Social Worker for more information.
All other parents and carers will need to sign into their Gateway account, you’ll need the Government Gateway ID and the password you used to apply.
If you have any concerns about your child’s funded place, it is very important that you always discuss them with your childcare provider first. If after speaking to them you are still not happy then please see the complaints procedure