Free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds


All 3 and 4 year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year – it's usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

Some are also eligible to get an extra 15 hours a week – 30 hours a week in total – for 38 weeks of the year, which is 1,140 hours in total per year.

This applies until children reach compulsory school age. The funding is paid directly to the childcare provider.

The following table shows when you can claim the free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds.

Born between Eligible from
1 January and 31 March Summer term (after the Easter holidays)
1 April and 31 August Autumn term (September)
1 September and 31 December Spring term (January)

It’s up to you where you use your child’s free entitlement. You can choose from lots of places that give children good quality early years education.

These include:

  • full day care nurseries
  • pre-schools and playgroups
  • local authority nursery schools
  • nursery units within an infant or primary school
  • Ofsted-registered breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday clubs
  • child minders that we authorise to provide free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds

You can find details of local places at: