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Frequently Asked Questions

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Funded childcare can help improve your child’s learning and development, for example their communication skills.

Your child will be able to explore, experiment and learn to share and make friends - 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.

Childcare can help if you are working, thinking of returning to work, take up a college course or can give you a bit more time to spend with your other children.

Here are some frequently asked questions to help you.

If you can't find the answer to your question, please contact the Early Years and Childcare Service by sending an email to or call 020 8583 3470

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, which is an 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.

I think my child is too young to attend

Please speak to the childcare provider to see if your child can start off with fewer hours each week and increase later on. Or, ask if your child can start later in the year.

Will taking funded childcare affect any of my benefits?

Please go to to check or speak to your Job Centre Advisor

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

If you qualify, you will receive a confirmation letter and instructions on what to do next.

The confirmation 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 – 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 happens if they don't have the days or hours I need or if there is 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.

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

What if I cannot find a free childcare place?

You might find that your chosen childcare provider does 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

Will I need to tell the childcare provider 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 e.g. 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.

Will I have to pay anything?

  • Please check if your childcare provider can offer you a completely funded place. Some childcare providers can only offer a limited number of funded places.
  • If you have been offered a completely funded place then no additional fees should be charged.
  • 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). Providers can charge a fee for these additions 
  • Please check if there will be any additional charges before your child starts their place

If you require more hours than the free hours then you can always 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 Childcare Choices website.

What should I do before I accept a childcare place?

You should check:

  • the childcare provider will be able to meet your child’s needs
  • the hours and days will meet your needs
  • if there are any charges and what do they relate to?
  • will the place move onto a funded 3 and 4 year old 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?

Why am I not getting 15 hours for my child?

You should speak to the childcare provider and check this. The reason could be that the childcare provider did not have 15 hours available or it could be because the hours are stretched across more weeks of the year.

The maximum entitlement is 570 hours per year and is broken down as 15 hours for 38 weeks (15 x 38 = 570).

Some childcare providers are open for more than 38 weeks and therefore they take the 570 hours per year and divide it by 50, 51 or 52 weeks of the year, all depending on how many weeks they are open.

If my circumstances change and/or I find work will the funded childcare end?

Once your child has started their free place it will not be taken away from them even if your circumstances change. They can stay there right up until they start school.

If I move or my child doesn't settle, will the funded childcare end?

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

What should I do if I am unhappy with my child’s funded place?

If you have any queries about your child’s funded 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 email

I don’t live in Hounslow, can my child go to a childcare provider in Hounslow?

Yes but you would need a confirmation letter from Hounslow. You can check your eligibility by clicking on the “check to see if you qualify” box.  If you have checked your eligibility and you believe you qualify but your results show that you don’t then please call 020 8583 3470