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30 hours free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds of working parents

30 hours hours free childcare for working parents

This funding will only be made available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year.

For more information please visit  HMRC website.

Applying for January 2022

Parents wishing to access the 30 hours’ free childcare entitlement from September 2020, will need to get the eligibility code and they must apply by 31 December 2021

Check to see if you qualify for the funding

If you have any additional questions, then please contact us





What is the additional 15 hours free childcare entitlement?

Currently all 3 & 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.  Children can access this entitlement in school, Nursery classes, private Day Nurseries, Pre-schools and with Childminders.  The Government is increasing the free hours from 15 to 30 a week from September 2017 for eligible working parents.

Will I be eligible?

Parents of three and four year olds need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for 30 hours free childcare:

  • They earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months.
  • This equates to £120 a week (or £6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week (or £5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old and £56 a week for apprentices in their first year. This applies whether the parent is in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
  • Have an annual income of less than £100,000 if they are a sole parent family or less than £100,000 each if they are a two parent family.
  • The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
  • Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they are on statutory sick leave.
  • Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work.
  • Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.
  • If one or both parents is a non-EEA national, the parent applying must have recourse to public funds

If you are a foster parent

Your foster child will be able to receive up to 30 hours of free childcare if the following criteria is met:

  • 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. 

You do not have to take up the full 30 hours.  There is no requirement on the type of work (which includes self-employment) or 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 30 hours from the term after your foster child turns three and you have received an eligibility code from the local authority.


When will my child become eligible for the funding?

Your child will become eligible for the funding at the start of the school term after their third birthday.

Children born in the period

Become eligible for funding at the start of term beginning or following

School term

1 January - 31 March

1 April


1 April - 31 August

1 September


1 September - 31 December

1 January


How do I check my eligibility and get a code?

Eligibility will be checked by HMRC via the Childcare Choices website and will be based on actual income earned. 

Where can I take up my free entitlement?

The offer can be delivered by a range of providers which include:

  • Childminders
  • Nurseries
  • Nursery classes in schools and academies
  • Nursery based in a Children’s Centre
  • Private day nurseries, Playgroups and Pre-schools

Please see attached document under 'Downloads' located to the top right of this page

Will I have to pay for anything?

Your child’s entitlement is FREE, providers cannot charge for the free entitlement or any top up fees, for example registration fees or uniform.  However, providers can offer additional services which could be subject to charges, but they must make parents fully aware of any additional charges that apply prior to them taking up their free place.

Parents/carers should be clearly billed so that they can clearly understand:

  • Free entitlement
  • Any additional hours or charges for services

Parents/carers should be offered a choice of providing a packed lunch where the provider charges for lunch.  A place must not be offered on the grounds that you have to pay for additional hours or services.

Can I take my child’s entitlement during school holidays?

Yes, some providers may offer a ‘stretched entitlement’ which allows you to use less hours a week over a longer period of time.  In addition, you may use up to 2 different providers, splitting 15 hours each, to meet the needs of you and your child per day.

What if I have just moved to England and my child is not a British Citizen

Children moving to England from another country can access a place on the same basis as any other child in the Local Authority area, providing they meet the relevant eligibility criteria.

Special Educational Needs - is my child still eligible?

Providers have a responsibility to ensure all children have full access to the EYFS.  They must offer support for children accessing their provision with a disability or identified special educational need.  To ensure the needs of your child are fully met, we encourage you to discuss your child’s needs or any initial concerns with your provider.

There will be funding available to support SEN children to have full access to the EYFS.  The new Disability Access Fund is equivalent to £615 per child per year to support access to free entitlements.

3 and 4year olds will be eligible for the Disability Access Fund if they meet the following criteria:

  • The child is in receipt of child disability living allowance and
  • The child receives free early education

Early years providers are responsible for identifying eligible children.

This page will be updated regularly as new information comes on line from Central Government.



Privacy and Data Protection Policy

Family Support will manage any data submitted when you apply for 30 hours free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds. Please see the Family Support privacy and data information


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