Yes! You are reading this correctly - there is such a thing as FREE childcare. The Government subsidises between 15 to 30 hours of childcare, per week, for families with children between the ages of 2-4.
We have all the info below to find out if you are eligible and help you to apply for this service.
FREE Childcare and Early Education for 2 year old's
Your 2 year old can get up to 15 hours free childcare per week if you live in England and receive one of the following benefits:
income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Universal Credit and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
the Working Tax Credit 4 week run on
2 year old children can also get free childcare if they:
are looked after by a local authority
have a statement of Special Education Needs or an Education, Health and Care plan
have left care under an adoption, special guardianship or a child arrangements order
Contact your childcare provider or local council to find out more.
Read the full Government article on Free Education and Childcare for 2 year old's
15 hours per week of FREE Childcare for 3 to 4 year old's
All 3 to 4 year old's in England have 570 free hours per year, subsidised by the Government.
You are automatically eligible from your child's 3rd birthday. No if's, not but's, no catches.
These free hours are usually taken over a 38 week period throughout the year, when the schools are open during term time, equalling to 15 hours a week - but you can choose when you use these hours (for example, fewer hours over more weeks).
Where and when can I use my FREE hours?
The free hours are to be used for childcare and / or early education and the following rules apply:
they must be with an approved childcare provider
they stop when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)
you can get the hours from the term after your child’s 3rd birthday
How do I know when to enrol my child with my provider?
Children born 1 Jan to 31 Mar can start the term following 1 April
Children born 1 Apr to 31 Aug can start the term following 1 September
Children born 1 Sep to 31 Dec can start the term following 1 January
How does it work?
When your child turns 3, you should receive a letter from your council with a registration number, otherwise you will need to prove to your childcare provider the age of your child. When you are ready to use your hours, find an approved childcare provider (i.e. anyone who is a registered childcare provider) and book your child in with them.
The provider will then liaise with your local council directly to receive the funding for your child's care.
30 hours per week of FREE Childcare for 3 to 4 year old's
When you receive the above mentioned 15 hours of free childcare, you may also be eligible for another 15 hours per week, depending if your working status and income.
Eligible working parents of 3 to 4 year old's can receive 1,140 hour per year.
You can still apply for 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax Free Childcare.
How much do you need to earn to be eligible?
You will need to be working at least 16 hours a week on the National Minimum Wage and prove that you receive this income over a 3 month period. If you have a partner, they’ll need to expect to earn at least this much too.
You will need to be earning at least 140 per week / £600 per month, for 3 months
You can still apply for 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:
on sick leave or annual leave
on shared parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave
Check here to see if your are eligible - Get 30 Free Hours of Childcare
What if I am self employed?
If you’re self-employed and do not expect to make enough profit in the next 3 months, you can use an average of how much you expect to make over the current tax year. This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
When do I apply for my child's 30 hours?
You can apply from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old.
See what your local council has to offer you here - Find Free Early Education and Childcare
Check for an 'approved childcare provider' here - Get Childcare: step by step
Check here to see if you are eligible for - Free Education and Childcare for 2 year old's
Check here to see if your are eligible for 30 hours - Get 30 Free Hours of Childcare
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Thanks, from the Wild Kingfishers Team