The Free Entitlement
Free childcare places otherwise known as 'The Free Entitlement' offer all 3 to 4 year olds 570 hours a year of funded childcare.
This is spread across three funding blocks, with a maximum of 15 hours a week. Children are eligible the first full funding block following their 3rd birthday.
• 1st September to 31st December
• 1st January to 31st March
• 1st April to 31st August
You can calculate when free childcare will start for your child using this calculator.How do I claim my free childcare?
To claim your free childcare please speak to your chosen childcare provider who can help. Childcare providers can not charge for these FREE hours. Where can my child take up their childcare?
You can access the free entitlement at most OFSTED registered childcare providers. These include:
• Private day nurseries
• Pre-school playgroups
• Maintained nurseries (nurseries attached to a school)
• Childminders and childminder agencies
• Independent schools
Details of all childcare providers can be found on the Children and families service finder.Can I use more than one childcare provider?
You may choose for your child to take all or part of their free entitlement at a maximum of two childcare providers.What if I don’t want to use the free childcare straight away?
Not all parents choose to start their free entitlement as soon as they qualify. It may be that you choose to start a few weeks into the term. Your child is still entitled to free entitlement regardless of when you choose to start in the term, provided:
• The childcare provider you have chosen has a vacancy
• The vacancy that is available does not require the childcare provider to employ another member of staff - additional children would exceed the amount of children they are allowed to have as set by OFSTED in the OFSTED ratios.
• The childcare provider has no information conditions written into their admissions policy or terms and conditions to state that they will not admit funded children after the headcount day has passed.Extended 30 Hour Entitlement
From September 2017 the government has committed to increasing the free childcare offer from (up to) 15 hours to (up to) 30 hours a week for families that are eligible. Find out if more about if you are eligible and how to apply.