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3 and 4 Year Old Early Years Entitlement

1. Help with Childcare Costs 2. 3 and 4 year old Entitlement

2. 3 and 4 Year Old Funding

All children are entitled to a free early years place for 570 hours per year at the start of the school term following their 3rd birthday.

Children who are 3 and 4 years old are entitled to free early education which entitles them to 15 hours funding per week (570 hours per year).  You can also have a stretched offer of 12 hours per week over 48 weeks per year with childcare providers who offer this funding.  The basic model you can expect to be offered is 3 hours per day over 5 days a week or 5 hours per day over 3 days per week, but each early years provider offers funding in different ways, so it is advised you get in contact with early years providers to decide what is best for your child.

This can be accessed from the term after the child's 3rd birthday up untill they reach compulsory school age.  You can access free early years place at any early years provider registered to deliver funded places.  Children are entitled to access school reception classes from September after their 4th birthday. 


When your child will be eligible:

Child Born Between

Will become eligible for free childcare

1 January and 31 March

Start of term on or after 1 April

1 April and 31 August

Start of term on or after 1 September

1 September and 31 December

Start of term on or after 1 January


Your early years provider will claim funding from the local authority on your behalf; you will be required to sign a parent/carer declaration and provide proof of your child's date of birth.  The Parent/Carer Declaration Form allows your child's details to be shared with the local authority informing them about the child and how many hours they are attending.  The local authority will the pay the provider for the child's place.

You can choose to access your free hours between no more than two early years providers on the local authority’s directory.  You would need to agree attendance patterns with both early years providers and ensure you only claim a maximum of 15 hours on a standard school term time offer, or 12 hours on the stretched offer per week between these providers.

You are not obliged to pay for additional services in order to access your child’s free hours.  Early years providers will not charge you anything extra for the free place.

You do not need to pay a deposit for the free hours.  However, providers can charge you for extra services you choose to take, for example the cost of a hot meal where your child stays over lunchtime, access to forest schools, swimming lessons or additional hours on top of the free place.

Early years providers will charge parents at their own rate for hours and services accessed outside of the free sessions.


All parents/carers can find out more information regarding the 3 and 4 Year Old Entitlement by contacting:

  • The Family Information Service on 0800 195 1635 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm;
  • The EYE Team at Early Years and Childcare Support;
  • Any Children's Centre;
  • Their child's Early Years Provider or Professionals involved with their child

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