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Get your 30 hours code in good time for next term: apply by 28 February

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare and early education a week for up to 38 weeks a year. Eligible working families can claim an additional 15 hours of free childcare for their 3 or 4 year old child.

Apply now for a 30 hours code for April – check you’re eligible at


  • Don't leave it until the last day.
  • Make sure you give your code to your chosen provider to confirm your childcare place.

If you haven’t already found a provider view those offering 30 hour places on our directory.

 Take me to where I can check my eligibilty and apply NOW 


What is registered childcare?

The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under 8 for a period of more than two hours at a time to register with Ofsted. Providers are inspected regularly by Ofsted and these reports are then published.  The inspection will rate the quality of the childcare being provided and judge it as either

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires improvement
  • Inadequate

When provision is judged to be less than "Good", Ofsted and the local authority will take steps to work with the provider to improve the quality of their childcare

Read more on Ofsted's role in regulating childcare......

Exemptions - Some types of childcare are exempt from compulsory registration. Nannies, for example, are employed by a family to work in that family’s home, and are not classed as a childcare business in the same way as childminders who operate from their own homes. Other exempt provision includes those where children stay for less than two hours, such as crèches, or groups like Rainbows and Scouts. Exempt providers can opt to join what is known as the Voluntary Childcare Register and then can also be inspected. Sread more about employing a nanny here Finding a home-based child carer (nanny)

Read about what the different types of childcare are and the ratio of staff to children in the different settings...

**All childcare providers listed on this directory are registered and subject to Ofsted inspections**

Free childcare and early learning for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

The government provides free early learning to 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

Eligible 2 year olds are entitled to free childcare and early learning. This depends on your family income or the child’s circumstances. Read more….

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to childcare and early education.  This entitlement is up to 15 hours at a registered childcare provider. Read more…..

30 hours extended entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds eligible working families are able to get an additional 15 hours of free childcare and early education. Read more....

Paying for childcare

You can get help paying for childcare as long as your childcare provider is registered*

Support schemes currently available (dependent on eligibility) are

  • 15 hours of free childcare for eligible 2 year olds
  • 15 hours of free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds
  • 30 hours of free childcare for eligible 3 and 4 year olds
  • Tax free childcare
  • Tax credits for childcare
  • Universal credit for childcare
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Support while you study

If you are unsure about which option/s to go with towards your childcare costs as some are not available in conjunction with others, you can use the government's Childcare Choices website and Childcare Calculator to find out more and compare which ones you are better off applying for.

*The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under 8 for a period of more than two hours at a time to register with Ofsted.

Childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities

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