Help with childcare costs

Free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds

All parents and carers with a 3 or 4 year-old child may be eligible for 570 hours of free childcare a year during school term time. It's usually taken as 15 hours a week over the 38 weeks of school term time, but your childcare provider may allow you to take fewer hours over more weeks.

Some 3 and 4 year-olds are eligible an extra 15 hours of free childcare a week, making a total of 30 hours – go to free childcare if you're working.

You can only use this free childcare with approved childcare providers that are registered with Ofsted – go to finding and choosing childcare for more details.


The table below shows when you can claim free childcare after your child's 3rd birthday.

Your child's birthday Start getting free hours Best time to apply
1 January to 31 March Summer term, from April 15 January to 28 February
1 April to 31 August Autumn term, from September 15 June to 31 July
1 September to 31 December Spring term, from January 15 October to 30 November

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

The free early education and childcare stops when your child starts in reception class or reaches compulsory school age, if later.

Getting your free childcare

You do not have to make an application to get 570 hours of free childcare for your 3 or 4 year-old.

Ask your childcare provider or our Family Information Service for details.