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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I take up a free childcare place for my child?

Free childcare can help improve your child’s learning and development, for example communication skills. Your child will be able to explore, experiment, and learn to share and socialise - all of which will help them to be ready to start school. It could also give them access to exciting places to play and new activities including messy play that you might not want to do at home. It can also help if you are working and need childcare whilst at work.

Childcare is also good for families - it can give you a bit more time to spend with your other children, take up a college course, or go back to work.

Will my child be safe?

All the childcare providers have qualified staff who are fully trained in looking after children and have been police checked. They are inspected by Ofsted – the organisation that makes sure that schools, childminders and nurseries are safe and are providing a good experience for children.

Does my child have to be toilet trained?

No, the childcare provider will help with toilet training. You may need to take in your own nappies.

Will there be any costs?

No, the 15 hours should be completely free

Can I take extra hours?

Yes, if you take extra hours this is charged at an additional rate which the childcare provider will tell you about. Please make sure you ask the rate if you are taking extra hours over and above your free hours.

Do I need to pay a deposit to the childcare provider?

You will not need to pay a deposit for your free hours but if you are taking any extra hours you may be required to pay a deposit for this

Will it affect my Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance?

No, it does not. However, if you have childcare paid for by a college, Job Centre or social care please check with them first before taking up any free hours

Will taking up a free childcare place affect my Working Tax Credit?

Yes, but 15 hours free is better than up to 70% off and you can still get help for the extra hours you might use. Before taking up your free place for your child you must contact HMRC (0345 300 3900) and ask them how it will affect your Working Tax Credit. If you are already using a childcare provider tell HMRC that your childcare costs have changed and ask them how it will affect your Working Tax Credit

I'm looking for work, if I get a job will the free childcare be withdrawn?

No, once you qualify for your free childcare place it will continue even if your circumstances change.

I think my child is too young to leave me for 15 hours per week, can I start him/her a bit later or use less hours?

Yes, the choice is yours; your child can start off with fewer hours and build them up when they are ready (as long as your childcare provider is able to increase the hours), or start your child a bit later in the year.

What happens after I have checked to see if I qualify?

If you qualify, you will receive a voucher letter and instructions on what to do next. You should read these instructions carefully before choosing a childcare provider. The voucher letter and proof of ID must be taken to the childcare provider as evidence before your child can start their place.

Which childcare providers can offer free 2 year old places?     

Childcare providers must hold a good or outstanding OFSTED rating. Childcare providers will include childminders, pre-school playgroups, day nurseries and some schools.

There is a registered childminder near me that I am interested in – could my child go there?

Possibly, we will need to check if the childminder meets the Ofsted grade and can offer a free childcare place. You will need to call the Early Years and Childcare Service on 020 8853 6421 and you will be helped through the process.

What should I do before I accept a free childcare place?

You should check that:

  • the childcare provider will be able to meet your child’s needs
  • the hours and days will meet your needs
  • the place is completely free and will move onto the free 3 and 4 year olds place from the term after your child’s 3rd birthday
  • policies on such things as behaviour management and diet. How do they cater for dietary and religious requirements for example?
  • is there a late fee if you don’t pick your child up on time?

What else should I think about before accepting a place?

  • when you visited the childcare provider were you made to feel welcome?
  • did the children look happy and well occupied?
  • did the staff seem happy, calm and confident?

Will I need to tell the childcare provider anything about my personal circumstances?

Yes, you will need to be prepared to share information relating to your circumstances which will be useful for the childcare provider to know eg: if you are being supported by social services, if your child has additional needs or if your family is experiencing difficulties. Sharing this information will help the childcare provider to support your child’s needs.

I don’t live in Hounslow but I want my child to attend a childcare provider in Hounslow, can I do this?

Yes. If you have a letter that says you qualify from your council you can take this to a childcare provider in Hounslow.

What happens if the childcare provider I like does not have the hours or days I need?

You will need to look at other childcare providers to find the days and times you are looking for.

What if the childcare provider I am interested has a waiting list?

Your first choice of childcare provider may not have a space and you may have to go on the waiting list. You should find out when a place will become available and how long their waiting list is. If the waiting list is long you may decide to look for another childcare provider as your child may be on the waiting list a long time

What if I cannot find a free childcare place?

You may find that your chosen childcare provider may not have a place available for your 2 year old. If you need help in finding a place please contact the Early Years and Childcare Service on 020 8583 6421 or email

What about if I move or my child doesn't settle at the childcare provider I have chosen, will the free childcare end?

No, once you have a free place it continues even if you choose to move your child to another childcare provider. You will be required to give notice to your childcare provider if your child is leaving.

What should I do if I am unhappy with my child’s free place?
If you have any queries about your child’s free place, it is important that you always discuss these first with your childcare provider. If, after speaking to your childcare provider, you still have questions please contact us on the number below.

If you require any further information, please contact the Early Years Entitlement Officer on either 020 8583 2664 or

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