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30 hour offer - Parent info

30 hours free childcare offer

If you wish to start accessing the 30 hours of free childcare from January you must apply by 31 December. 

Apply for 30 hours

Where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and each parent earns no more than £100,000 per year or no less than £120 a week (if aged over 25) or no less than £112.80 (if aged between 21 and 24).  

A parent will expect (on average) to earn this amount over the coming three months. The eligibility criteria have been designed to accommodate parents with fluctuating incomes and those who are about to start working or increase their hours. 

For example, a parent who is on a zero-hours contract will get work some weeks, but not others, and may not know in advance if they will have work in any given week. If, on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage, their child will qualify for 30 hours of free childcare. 

Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible for the extended entitlement EXCEPT where: 

  • Both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity, adoption leave, or on statutory sick pay 
  • One parent is employed and one parent either has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits 

Parents can be employed or self-employed 

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Up to 30 hours of free childcare* is available for 38 weeks of the year (if taken over school term time). Some childcare providers can stretch your entitlement across more weeks by taking fewer hours over each week (e.g 24 hours over 47 weeks).

If you're currently benefiting from using the 15 hours of universal free childcare, ask your childcare provider if they're offering the extended entitlement. Some providers may not be able to offer more hours, or they may only be able to offer a few extra hours. This may be due to places they have available or their opening times.

You can use the funding to pay for more than one childcare provider. This could be a nursery and a childminder, or two childminders.

* Parents can expect to pay for any meals or other consumables or additional activities offered by the provider, such as nappies or trips.  Where parents choose to purchase additional hours, consumables or additional activities, this is a private matter between the provider and the parent.  However, providers must offer alternative options, for example to bring in their own consumables or a packed lunch.

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You can only use the funding with childcare providers registered to access Free Entitlement funding. This includes:

These also include early education and childcare provision run by schools.

Use our Online Childcare Directory to find childcare, you can search by town or within a radius of a postcode.

Your chosen childcare provider(s) will need to check your eligibility, to do this you will be required to complete a consent form for the provider (to fulfil requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998).

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Children may only start accessing the extended entitlement from the term following their third birthday AND the term following receipt of their eligibility code from HMRC, whichever is later.  For the purpose of this funding, terms are defined as follows:

Autumn Term : 1 September - 31 December

Spring Term : 1 January - 31 March

Summer Term: 1 April - 31 August

For example, a child who turns three between 1 September and the 31 December will start their extended entitlement from 1 January.   Parents are encouraged to apply in the term before their child turns three in order to access a place in the term following their child's third birthday.   

Apply for 30 hours


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Childcare Choices website. This includes a childcare calculator to find out which childcare funding schemes would best suit your circumstances.

To find out about fee charging policies*, extra costs, paying for fees, deposits and retainers, speak to your childcare provider. *You need to agree to this when you register. 

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Last updated: 9 October 2017 | Last reviewed: 9 October 2017