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Funded care and education for 3 and 4-year-olds

From the term after their third birthday, until they start school, your child is entitled to up to 570 hours of funded early learning and childcare each year.

This is often taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks a year during school term time, although some childcare providers may allow you to use fewer hours per week, for more weeks of the year (known as a ‘stretched offer’). The hours can take place in nurseries (including school nursery classes), pre-schools, playgroups or at certain childminders.

Funded time can be taken between 6am and 8pm, for a maximum of 10 hours a day and at no more than 2 sites in a single day. There is no minimum amount of time that must be attended.

What should I do?

Check the table below to see when your child is eligible:

Child born between Entitled from
1 April and 31 August Start of Autumn funding period (from 1st September)
1 September and 31 December Start of Spring funding period (from 1st January)
1 January and 31 March Start of Summer funding period (from 1st April)

If you are already using childcare make sure you speak to your provider to ensure that you are using all the hours you need and are entitled to.

If you’re not already using childcare:

You must then contact your chosen provider direct. They will tell you how to apply for a place.

Please note that any provider receiving an inadequate outcome from Ofsted will not be able to receive funding for any new 3 or 4-year-old children.

30 hours funded childcare

Some children of working parents may be eligible for extra funded early education and childcare. Find out more about the extended entitlement.

Tax-Free Childcare

The government Tax-Free Childcare scheme can be used alongside the 15 and 30 hours of funded childcare. You can apply for both the 30 hours and Tax-Free Childcare schemes through one online application.

The top things parents need to know about both these offers can be found in the Childcare Choices factsheet.

Further information and advice

The Childcare Choices website contains lots of useful information on the government help that is available towards childcare costs.

The charity Employers for Childcare offers personalised advice and guidance to families so they get the financial support they’re entitled to.

Search Pinpoint for childcare providers registered to offer funded places to 3 and 4 year olds