Free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds

Tips on using 30 hours free childcare

You can use your free 30 hours with whichever type of provider suits you best.

This could be:

  • full daycare, such as a nursery
  • a provider that runs sessions, such as a playgroup
  • a school's childcare
  • an out-of-school club
  • a child minder

You can only take up 30 hours at an approved provider, this means they must be either:

  • a school
  • registered with Ofsted
  • registered with a child-minding agency

Different childcare arrangements work for different families.

When deciding, you should consider:

  • you can take up your 30 hours between 6am and 8pm, but no session can be longer than 10 hours
  • you don't have to use all 30 hours, just those that meet your needs
  • providers have a choice whether to offer the hours – some may not offer the full 30 hours
  • you can split your hours between providers but splitting is limited to a maximum of 2 sites per day – you must get your 30 hours code checked by all the providers you use
  • your 30 hours is available for 38 weeks of the year, but some providers will allow you to 'stretch' your entitlement over 52 weeks meaning you get fewer hours per week – for example, you could take 22 hours a week for 52 weeks

Speak to your provider about whether they offer 30 hours.